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Vail Celebrates 20 years supporting veterans

March 5, 2024
Classic Rock

Vail, Colo., March 4, 2024- Vail Veterans Program (VVP) is celebrating its 20th anniversary March 3-8, 2024, hosting 22 injured military service members, along with their guests and staff from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, and Brooke Army Medical Army/ Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, TX. Since 2004, VVP has provided life-changing events at no cost for over 4,700 wounded service members and their families, delivering over 12,000 program days, positively impacting the lives of our Nation’s Heroes. Adaptive skiing and snowboarding in the mountains provides the foundational basis for successfully restoring hope, rebuilding confidence and strengthening families. 


Army Staff Sergeant Heath Calhoun attended the inaugural Winter Program in 2004 just months after he had lost both legs in Iraq when he was hit with a grenade, while serving in the 101st Airborne Division in 2003. At the end of the program he shared, “I don’t know why you did this for us, but you changed my life,” said Heath Calhoun. 


Calhoun went on to become a decorated Paralympian at the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics winning silver in the super combined ski race. He was selected by fellow teammates to carry the US flag in the Opening Ceremonies. “I think there are a lot of similarities between my military service and ski racing,” Calhoun said. “They’ve both given me an opportunity to represent my country to its fullest.” 


In 2003 just months after the war in Iraq started, VVP Founder, Cheryl Jensen, met then-Army Captain David Rozelle, who had lost his leg while serving in Iraq, and shared her idea to bring wounded service members to Vail to learn adaptive skiing. Together, they secured funding and Rozelle provided the introduction to patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, resulting in seven wounded veterans coming to Vail and learning to ski.


“Colorado holds a special place in the hearts of thousands of military service members and their families,” said Cheryl Jensen. “Two decades ago, this journey began as a humble vision, a belief that nature and skiing could transform the lives of our Nation’s Heroes. I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude and reflection as we commemorate 20 years of service to those who have sacrificed while serving our country.”


Through vital partnerships with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center/ Center for The Intrepid, and the Naval Medical Center, Vail Veterans Program remains focused on its mission of providing military injured and their families with innovative and transformational programs that build confidence and improve lives. 


Vail Veterans Program has been nationally recognized as a "gold standard" for innovative therapeutic programs by its partner military hospitals as well as through national recognition, including Jensen being awarded the US Army’s Secretary of Defense Medal of Outstanding Service, and Outstanding Civilian Service Award. The organization remains committed to seeking new and innovative ways to continue meeting the evolving needs of our Nation’s Heroes, to help them discover a “new normal” while conquering a lifelong military service injury.



About Vail Veterans Program

Since 2004 VVP has created a variety of programs to support the lifelong healing journey of injured service members, that provide the foundational basis for successfully restoring hope, rebuilding confidence and strengthening families. Programs include caregiver retreats, family support programs,  Veterans Path to Success programming, and outdoor therapeutic sports programs.


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