Font Size Down Font Size Up Reset Font Size

Sign Up for Committee Updates

 

Witness Testimony of Charles Huebner, Chief of U.S. Paralympics, U.S. Olympic Committee

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

We accepted the responsibility and opportunity to serve those that have served us and because of your leadership in developing and providing funding for this USOC and VA partnership, we are here today to report the following outcomes in the past 10 months:

  • The VA and USOC have distributed more 70 grants and provided ongoing training and technical assistance resulting in more than $5.9m in support.
  • These grant organizations are contributing more than $40.0m in private resources and programmatic support.
  • More than 200 Paralympic Sport Clubs or community sport organizations are currently providing programs for Veterans or service members.
  • More than 850 community, sport, military and Veteran leaders have been provided training, technical assistance or ongoing program support to develop or expand existing programs for Veterans.
  • More than 14,000 Veterans with disabilities participated in programs and activities since the program’s inception, with an emphasis on programming at the community level.

Our focus moving forward are as follows:

  • Provide $7.5m in grants, training and programmatic support, including grants to more than 100 organizations.
  • Implement the inaugural VA - USOC Paralympic Adaptive Sport Training Conference with more than 50 VA therapeutic recreation coordinators participating in February 2012, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
  • Reduce year one programmatic staff and reinvest those resources into program needs to Veteran and community organizations implementing sport at the local level for Veterans in 2011 and 2012.
  • Enhance educational materials and awareness of the impact and importance of physical activity for Veterans at the national and local level.
  • Pursue additional resources to support VA – USOC regional coordinators that can enhance collaboration and impact of programs in targeted regions throughout the U.S.   Projected need for eight regional coordinators and program budget is estimated at $2.488m.

Good morning Chairman Stutzman and Ranking Member Braley,  and members of the subcommittee.  My name is Charlie Huebner and I am the Chief of Paralympics, for the United States Olympic Committee.   Thank you for the opportunity to testify on progress of the Department of Veteran Affairs, U.S. Olympic Committee and U.S. Paralympics partnership. 

By way of a brief background, the USOC is an organization chartered by Congress and one of only four National Olympic Committees that mange both Olympic and Paralympic sport.  We are one of only a handful of National Olympic Committees that are 100% privately funded, with our major competitors outspending us often as much as 5-to-1.  Paralympic programs are sports for physically disabled athletes.  The Paralympic Movement began shortly after World War II utilizing sports as a form of rehabilitation for injured military personnel returning from combat. In 2012 the Paralympic Games return to Great Britain, where with significant involvement from U.S. and U.K. Veterans, the movement was founded.

Injured military personnel and Veterans are the soul of the Paralympic movement.  And when I speak of the Paralympic movement, I am not just talking about a small number of elite athletes that will make future Paralympic teams, I am speaking of the growing programs in the U.S. led by the USOC and our partners like PVA, DSUSA and USA Shooting that allow Veterans with physical disabilities an opportunity to re-engage in life by simply skiing with their buddies or playing in the backyard with their kids.     As programming expands daily, we see a population that has lower secondary medical conditions, higher self-esteem, lower stress levels and higher achievement levels in education and employment.  Research proves that!  More importantly, we see a population that inspires all Americans to pursue excellence, in sports and in life.

A few years ago this Committee, Congressional leaders and Veteran and Military organizations asked the USOC to lead this effort, due to our powerful and inspiring brand; our expertise in physical activity and sport for persons with disabilities; and our significant infrastructure of member organizations such as Parks and Recreation, YMCA and  USA Hockey, organizations that touch communities all over the U.S., that allow for financial and programmatic efficiencies.   We accepted the responsibility and opportunity to serve those that have served us and because of your leadership in developing and providing funding for this USOC and VA partnership, we are here today to report the following outcomes in the past 10 months:

  • The VA and USOC have distributed more 70 grants and provided ongoing training and technical assistance resulting in more than $5.9m in support.
  • These grant organizations are contributing more than $40.0m in private resources and programmatic support.
  • More than 200 Paralympic Sport Clubs or community sport organizations are currently providing programs for Veterans or service members.
  • More than 850 community, sport, military and Veteran leaders have been provided training, technical assistance or ongoing program support to develop or expand existing programs for Veterans.
  • More than 14,000 Veterans with disabilities participated in programs and activities since the program’s inception, with an emphasis on programming at the community level.

Thanks to the leadership of this Committee, Secretary Eric Shinseki, Executive Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Mike Galloucis, VA Paralympic Director Chris Nowak, and VA Paralympic team member Matt Bristol, all Veterans, we have completed the planning phases for 2011 and beyond with an emphasis on expanded services, greater efficiencies and significant impact on those that we owe so much.

Our focus moving forward are as follows:

  • Provide $7.5m in grants, training and programmatic support, including grants to more than 100 organizations.
  • Implement the inaugural VA - USOC Paralympic Adaptive Sport Training Conference with more than 50 VA therapeutic recreation coordinators participating in February 2012, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
  • Reduce year one programmatic staff and reinvest those resources into program needs to Veteran and community organizations implementing sport at the local level for Veterans in 2011 and 2012.
  • Enhance educational materials and awareness of the impact and importance of physical activity for Veterans at the national and local level.
  • Pursue additional resources to support VA – USOC regional coordinators that can enhance collaboration and impact of programs in targeted regions throughout the U.S.   Projected need for eight regional coordinators and program budget is estimated at $2.488m.

In closing, I’d like to highlight one program that aligns all of our strategies, collaboration, training, technical assistance, awareness and financial support, along with an emphasis on hiring Veterans.

Joe Brown was from Arizona.  His family has a strong military history.  His grandfather died as a POW during the Korean War.  His father was an Air Force fighter pilot.   Joe played football at the Ohio State University and three years in the NFL.  But the Army Rangers were continually a calling, so he joined the Army, the Rangers and deployed to Iraq in 2004 and again in 2007.  

During his 2007 tour he was calling in air strikes atop a three-story building, trying to help a unit in trouble.  As his unit was leaving the building, Brown fell down a 30-foot shaft, suffering a severe brain injury.

Brown new the importance of physical activity and sport in the rehabilitation process.  He attended the USOC VA Paralympic Leadership Conference to gain valuable training and connect with other organizations and agencies in his region.  He pursued a position in the parks and recreation industry near a military facility so he could serve injured service members and Veterans

He was hired by Harker Heights Parks and Recreation outside of Ft. Hood.  Harker Heights, was awarded a $23,000 USOC – VA grant in 2010.  Today more than 80 Veterans are participating consistently in an array of physical activity programs led by Joe. 

Harker Heights Hired a Hero!  I would like to recognize U.S. Army Veteran Joe Brown.

And again, I would like to thank the Committee, VA leadership and organizational partners with us today for supporting this partnership that is so critical to supporting our Nation’s finest.

I am available for any questions.