Feature Article - April 2011
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Marching Ahead

The Connection Between Recreation & Quality of Life

By Rick Dandes

Home Front

"Well, I think that there are plenty of recreation opportunities out there on military bases, said Tammy Smith, of Penn State University, "but there is a large gap between military-offered services and services provided at home."

As an example, she said, "a wounded veteran is introduced to golf as a life-long recreation option while on the installation. He/she then begins working with the golf pro on the installation through instruction geared toward Wounded Warriors. Then, the wounded service member goes home. He/she calls a couple of courses and can't find anyone, then makes a call back to the military Golf Pro who does not have the answer, and so the new player is without an instructor and an opportunity to learn how to play. This is a gap that Penn State and the PGA are currently working to close."

Penn State is going to train golf pros on including Wounded Warriors in their instruction and play, and help develop a database of golf courses that have Certified Adaptive Golf Instructors that are "wounded warrior" friendly.

"We want to repeat that process for other organized sports and recreation programs," Smith said.

What researchers at Penn State have found is that many general recreation, sports and fitness providers don't know what to say or what to do if they were to come face to face with a wounded warrior seeking participation. This isn't to say that providers should fear the first person that comes in the door, Smith cautioned, but they should make sure their staff has some wounded-warrior-specific training.

Meanwhile, the Army has not only hired recreational therapists in the acute care rehabilitation hospitals like Walter Reed, but they are also beginning to hire recreational therapists for branch Headquarters to serve as inclusion coordinators, as well as recreational therapists for some of the installations as resources.