Vail Today: Vail Veterans Program utilizes the healing power of the mountains (video) | VailDaily.com

Vail Today: Vail Veterans Program utilizes the healing power of the mountains (video)

Can mountains heal people?

The Vail Veterans Program believes they can. That's why they bring military injured and their families to the Vail Valley for adaptive skiing and snowboarding programs in the winter and a multitude of activities in the summer.

This week, over 30 wounded veterans and their family members were invited to Vail free of charge, but it's not all about being on the hill. The Vail Veterans Program allows each veteran to create fun memories, build family bonds and realize that there is still so much out there for them to do.

Some injuries are apparent. A double above-the-knee amputee may be in a sit-ski, or you may see someone skiing or riding with a prosthesis and adaptive equipment. Other injuries aren't as noticeable, like a traumatic brain injury or post traumatic stress disorder.

"Visible or not, it doesn't matter. We all came from the same root of a military value: duty, honor, country is what we actually follow. We swap our war stories and we instantly bond," said Veronica Ko, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel who is an above-the-knee amputee getting back on the slopes again with the help of an adaptive instructor. She and many of the other vets had graduated from the bunny slope and were cruising all over Vail Mountain by the end of their stay.

The sport may be the hook, but the relationships are what she'll remember most. "In addition to getting to know the veterans, I love meeting the hosts of the Vail Veterans Program, the volunteers and the adaptive ski instructors who help us on the hill," Ko said. "When you feel it right there in your heart, it's one of those things you take with you everywhere you go. The entire last four days have been non-stop smiles for everybody!"

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Can mountains heal people?

The Vail Veterans Program believes they can, and so does Veronica Ko.

"I firmly believe the mountains help to heal your mind, soul and spirit," Ko said. "I feel like I am coming out of here with a brand new spirit and, a brand new family."