Four Maryland Veterans Compete in 25th National Veterans Golden Age Games

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Four of Maryland’s golden age Veterans, who served during the Korean and Vietnam War eras, competed during the 25th National Veterans Golden Age Games in Honolulu, HI, May 26 – 31, and brought back silver and gold medals.

They trained for one to two hours per day, three days a week, and they were focused.

Four of Maryland’s golden age Veterans, who served during the Korean and Vietnam War eras, competed during the 25th National Veterans Golden Age Games in Honolulu, HI, May 26 – 31, and brought back silver and gold medals. The Maryland contingent included Joseph Clemons, 74, an Air Force Veteran from the Korean War era, and Army Veterans from the Vietnam War era, Grant Edwards, 59, Nathan Moody, 64, and James Jones, 65, all of whom receive their health care at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Maryland Health Care System.

Clemons won gold medals in horse shoes and shot-put, silver medals in shuffleboard and discus, and a bronze medal in 9-ball pool. Moody won a bronze medal in horseshoes, and Jones, a silver medal in discus. Sharon Taylor-Johnson, a kinesiotherpist for the VA Maryland Health Care System, helped to train the Veterans for the competition and traveled with the team to Hawaii to help coach them during their medal winning efforts.

“They had been working hard and were eager to compete,” said Taylor-Johnson. “They trained for one to two hours per day, three days a week, and they were focused.”

Clemons, who is a bilateral amputee, competed in the horse shoe, shot-put, table tennis and 9-ball form of pool, and Edwards, a stroke survivor, brought his A-game to horse shoes, shot-put, discus, shuffle board and 9-ball pool. Moody, a paraplegic, competed in all the same events in addition to a 10-meter air rifle event, as did Jones who also competed in the cycling event.

“The guys in the wheelchairs showed us all up. They won the most medals and showed us how it was done,” said Jones, sporting the silver medal from his discus competition.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Canteen Service and Help Hospitalized Veterans, the Games, which was hosted by the VA Pacific Island Health Care System based in Honolulu, represents the largest sports and recreation event in the world for Veterans age 55 and older.Veteran athletes from across the United States, Puerto Rico and nearby islands competed in this year's anniversary event, competing for gold, silver and bronze medals in 14 athletic events, including swimming, cycling, golf, shot-put, discus, 10-meter air rifle, table tennis, dominoes, shuffleboard, horseshoes, nine-ball, bowling, checkers and croquet.

Each event has seven age categories for participation, and Veterans with visual impairments and those in wheelchairs competed in unique categories based on their abilities. The events were held at Fort DeRussy, Mamala Bay and Ke’alohi golf courses, Hawaii Convention Center, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and other sites throughout the city.

World War II and other Veteran athletes also had opportunities to visit the Valor in the Pacific National Monument and attend the Memorial Day Ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific-Punchbowl.

The National Veterans Golden Age Games are hosted by VA medical facilities at different locations each year. This is the first time the annual event was held in Honolulu.

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Rosalia Scalia