San Diego

From Coma to Bull's Eye: Injured Vets Test Abilities at National Adaptive Sports Clinic

"Once you get that first bulls eye, it really wakes you up and lets you know, oh wow, I can do this"

Dozens of veterans from across the country are in San Diego this week to test their limits, both physically and mentally.

They are taking part in the 11th National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, which kicked off Sunday. The event is hosted by the VA San Diego Healthcare System and is open to severely injured or ill veterans receiving care at any Veterans Affairs medical facility.

Gabriel George came out from Florida. He served five years as a Navy Corpsman before being critically injured in a motorcycle accident.

"They pronounced me dead on the scene. I was in a coma for three weeks. They said I wasn’t going to walk again, a lot of things. But here I am," George said.

He said he was in a very dark place before attending last year’s clinic.

"I never planned anything. I didn’t want to buy a house. I didn’t want to do anything, because, why?"

The clinic taught him he could do anything he set his mind to, even archery, with a little adaptation.

"Once you get that first bull's-eye, it really wakes you up and lets you know, oh wow, I can do this," George said.

Archery is one of a half-dozen different sports the veterans are exposed to during the event. They also participate in kayaking, cycling, surfing, sailing and pickleball.

Each veteran is paired with a volunteer who helps them adapt the equipment, or their use of it, according to their individual needs.

"Being able to do things like this gives you something to look forward to. So when I have episodes where I’m hurting real bad, I have something positive to focus on, versus all the other stuff that I could focus on," George said.

The clinic continues through Friday, and the public is invited to attend and cheer on the veterans.

Click here for the full schedule of events.  

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