Vail Veterans Program hosts seven wounded Israeli soldiers | VailDaily.com

Vail Veterans Program hosts seven wounded Israeli soldiers

Soldiers represent first international group that nonprofit has hosted in its 15-year history

Israeli soldier Ophir Saada straps into his board with the help of instructor Matthew Cecere during Vail Veterans program Tuesday in Vail. Saada was riding down the slopes without help in no time.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com
To help
  • The Vail Veterans Program is supported by donors, corporate sponsors, and volunteers. That allows all programs to be free for veterans and their families. For more information about the Vail Veterans Program, including how to donate and/or volunteer, visit vailveteransprogram.org or call 970-476-4906.

VAIL — Few people know the sound of a bomb blowing off a limb and the screams that follow.

A few of those know the sound of healing and the laughter that follows.

Members of the Vail Veterans Program do. And now so do seven Israeli soldiers injured in combat. Those Magnificent Seven are in Vail this week as the Vail Veterans Program’s first international group.

Col. Greg Gadson is a double amputee injured in the Middle East. He knows how both horror and healing sound and feel. He’s a Vail Veterans Program alumnus and has been to Vail several times.

“I’m an old soldier. That’s the bond and that’s what brings us here. It extends beyond where you served. We’ve all made tremendous sacrifices for the love of our country,” Gadson said.

Guardian goddesses

Maayan Gottesman is the Israeli soldiers’ guardian angel this week, keeping track of her guys. That makes Gottesman and Vail Veterans Program co-founder Cheryl Jensen the queens of this world.

The Israelis were in Vail a year or so ago for some medical consulting with the Steadman Philippon Research Institute. Jensen wandered over to give a presentation about the Vail Veterans Program.

“Our jaws dropped when we realized we had such similar missions and values,” Gottesman said. “Brotherhood directs us.”

Wounded soldiers run the Israeli organization. “It creates a sense of brotherhood,” Gottesman said.

Col. Dave Rozelle adjusts his foot before strapping into ski boots for the Vail Veterans program Tuesday in Vail. Rozelle is on the Vail Vets board, and has been an active member for many years.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Gottesman served in the Israeli army, so she “gets it,” she said. She wasn’t wounded in combat, so that part she doesn’t.

The Magnificent Seven hit the slopes Tuesday morning. They hit the Steadman Clinic Monday morning, where they learned they had more treatment options than they realized. One soldier left with a new and better brace, others were examined for brain injuries, still others for other injuries.

“It was a good day,” Gottesman said.

Each day of the week keeps getting better. They snowmobiled Wednesday and are back on Vail Mountain the rest of the week. They leave Saturday.

Ohad Abraham and Shani Kotev were being outfitted with snowboards Tuesday morning as they grinned out the window at Golden Peak. The last time they were on snow was Mount Hermon in Israel, one of the only places in the country that gets snow. The lifts are only open a few weeks, and they joked that it feels like weeks when you’re waiting in line.

Col. Dave Rozelle cofounded the Vail Veterans Program with Jensen.

Timing is everything. Rozelle was in town for a Vail Veterans Program board meeting this week.

Ohad Abraham with the Israeli Army rides the magic carpet during the Vail Vets program Tuesday in Vail. This was the first group of international soldiers to participate in the program in the nonprofit’s 15-year history.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Rozelle is an armored guy to his very marrow — tanks and other huge machines — and has both studied and taught younger officers about Israel’s victory in the Battle of Golan Heights, one of history’s greatest tank battles.

“We have a rich relationship with our brothers in the Israeli army,” Rozelle said.

Their trip to Vail, though, is about peace and healing, not war.

“Hopefully they’ll experience the same healing everyone enjoys,” Rozelle said.

Col. Greg Gadson, a double amputee, makes some turns Tuesday in Vail.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Here’s some serendipity for you. Jacob Wilhelm works with Vail Resorts and checked the Israeli soldiers into the ski school Tuesday morning at Golden Peak. He’s originally from Cincinnati where he teaches skydiving. Among his students are many wounded combat veterans. A few of this week’s group might join him in the Queen City.

“They’re doing something they never thought they’d do,” Wilhelm said.

The Vail Veterans Program is in its 15th year and has served more than 3,000 injured military personnel and their families.

Brothers for Life 2019 by Anonymous paxpP1VfRi on Scribd


Colorado

Elk herd finds a winter home at Eagle Ranch

January 22, 2020

For downvalley humans, it’s pretty cool when elk decide to hunker down around Eagle for the winter. For the elk, it’s more of a lesser-of-two-evils situation.



See more