Disabled Veterans from around the country will concluded the 17th Annual National Veterans TEE Tournament Thursday. The tournament, which began in 1994 as local effort by the Iowa City VA Medical Center to bring together blind Veterans, now hosts Veterans who are wheelchair-bound, amputees or living with other disabilities, for four days of therapeutic sports and camaraderie.
Eldon Miller, an Army Veteran of the Vietnam War who now lives in Iowa, was instrumental in getting the program off the ground. Legally blinded in a training accident in 1974, his love of outdoor recreation compelled him to seek out opportunities to maintain his active lifestyle. In 1987, this drove him to the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, an event aimed at therapy and rehabilitation through skiing and other winter activities. It has since become an annual event.
He and a small group of other Iowa Veterans quickly got together to create an event of their own, hoping to create further opportunities to bring disabled Veterans together. The result was what is now known as the TEE (Training, Exposure and Experience) Tournament, which has grown in size nearly every year since its inception.
Originally no golfer himself, Miller now works on his game constantly. “Don’t ever say you can’t do something unless you try it first,” he said.
Despite the program’s humble beginnings, this year’s tournament drew 238 attendees (well up from last year’s 175), who participated in a golf tournament, as well as horseshoes, kayaking and bowling events. It is clear that such events will continue to play a vital role in the ongoing rehabilitation of the nation’s Veterans.
Learn more about other VA-sponsored national rehabilitation events here.