Vail Today: Vail Veterans Program expands programs for wounded vets (video) |

Vail Today: Vail Veterans Program expands programs for wounded vets (video)

By Tricia Swenson | Vail Today
Since 2004, the Vail Veterans Program has provided rehabilitative sports and recreational activities to help build confidence and provide a sense of freedom from catastrophic injuries. First held on Vail Mountain, the activities included skiing and snowboarding with the help of adaptive equipment. Summer programs started a few years later, offering fly-fishing, rafting, mountain biking, horseback riding and golfing. Adaptive programs are so important in not only healing the body, but also healing the mind. Many veterans discover their possibilities within the inspirational surroundings of the Rockies. “I was about eight or nine months post injury and I was just getting off all of my pain medications and was in a really weird spot,” explains Brandon Dodson, who came to Vail straight from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. with his wife a few years ago. “But just getting up on that mountain, I fell in love with it. It’s also good to share this experience with other vets who have been through something similar.” The Vail Veterans Program now offers their alumni a three-day training program focusing on performance psychology, exercise physiology and nutrition. Dodson had the opportunity through the Vail Veterans Program to attend Johnson & Johnson’s Human Performance Institute. Participants at HPI learn how to expand their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy in order to sustain increased engagement, performance, and resiliency. This training program assists wounded veterans in acknowledging their old story, while helping them to identify their new story for future success outside of the military. “They give you knowledge that you may already know, but it’s brought to you in a new perspective and an easy way to take it home and continue doing it,” said Dodson. “It’s beneficial, I’ve honestly seen lives change.” A group of wounded veterans and their families are here this week for their spring program. To learn more about the Vail Veterans Program, please visit

Support Local Journalism