United States Department of Veterans Affairs

Veterans Information

Woman in a wheelchair participating in an air rifle competition. 

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National Veterans
Wheel Chair Games


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  • Director: Dave Tostenrude (202) 632 7135
  • Public Affairs Coordinator: Jordan Schupbach (202) 664-3733

  • Paralyzed Veterans of America

    PVA Sports Consultant: Tom Brown (817) 673 2812

  • Sports and Recreation Program Mary Hobbs (800) 424 8200, ext. 752
  • Media Contact, Paralyzed Veterans CommunicationsMark Daley (202) 379 8318


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Who can compete in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games?
Any honorably discharged Veterans who use a wheelchair to compete in sports and are eligible for health care in the VA system can register to compete in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.
How can I register to compete in the Games and is there a cost?
There is no registration fee. Registration information is available on the Paralyzed Veterans of America Web site, on the Sports and Recreation page: http://www.pva.org/. Or, contact your nearest VA medical facility (Recreation Therapy or Rehabilitation Medicine Services) or Paralyzed Veterans of America chapter (sports department) for more information. All forms in the registration packet must be completed in order to register. Completed registration packets must be submitted by the deadline to:
National Veterans Wheelchair Games Registration
Paralyzed Veterans of America
801 Eighteenth Street, NW,
Washington, DC 20006-3517
What types of sports are offered at the Game?
There are 17 different competitive sports, plus a variety of exhibition or demonstration sports that vary each year. Competitive sports include: air guns, archery, basketball, bowling, field, handcycling, a motorized wheelchair rally, nine-ball, power soccer, quad rugby, slalom, softball, swimming, table tennis, track, trapshooting and weightlifting.
How do the rules differ from "able bodied" sports?
Rules for wheelchair sports are essentially the same as their stand-up counterparts, with some adaptations made as needed for wheelchair use. For example, basketball rules are determined by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (which follow NCAA basketball rules) with the wheelchair considered part of the player’s body in ruling physical contact fouls. Several sports offered at the Games have no able-bodied version, such as the wheelchair slalom, a challenging obstacle course for wheelchair users. Handcycling, the motorized wheelchair rally and quad rugby, while similar to able bodied sports, are also specific to wheelchair users. Updated event rules are available on the web site early in the calendar year.
How many Veterans compete in the Wheelchair Games every year?
Typically, more than 500 Veterans compete in the Games every year.
Where do the Wheelchair Games competitors come from?
Athletes have come from virtually every state in the nation, with the largest contingents usually coming from California, Texas and New York. A team of wheelchair athletes from Puerto Rico has attended every year since 1986. A team of guest competitors from Great Britain has participated since 1987.
Why do the athletes in this event use wheelchairs?
The majority of participants have a spinal cord injury requiring that they use wheelchairs most or all of the time. These include paraplegic and quadriplegic athletes. Many of the athletes use manual wheelchairs; however, a large number of the quadriplegic athletes use motorized (power) wheelchairs. Other reasons for wheelchair use include lower extremity amputations (single or bilateral), neurological diseases or injuries such as multiple sclerosis or strokes; traumatic brain injuries, and other disabilities.
Were all of the Veterans at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games injured in war?
No. While many of the athletes were injured in service to their country (either in a war or during some other period of military service) many of the athletes were injured as civilians. Common non-military causes include motor vehicle accidents, diving accidents, falls, or through a disease or illness.
Do these athletes use wheelchairs all of the time when they’re not competing?
The vast majority do. Some amputees are able to walk with the use of prostheses, but they require a wheelchair to compete in some sports. Some competitors with varying levels of neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis or traumatic brain injuries, may also not require a wheelchair full time.
How do organizers make sure the competition is fair?
Athletes compete by the level of their ability. There are seven different classifications for the athletes, from quadriplegics (classified as IA, IB or IC), to paraplegics and amputees (classified as II, III, IV, and V). The higher the classification number, the less disabling the condition. In this way, someone who is amputee and has full upper body strength for example, would not compete against a high level quadriplegic who would not have that advantage. In addition, the athletes compete by the level of their experience, from "novice" (first timers) to "masters" (experienced athletes over the age of 40). For most of the events, men and women also compete separately.
Are there age categories at the Wheelchair Games?
In general, no. Athletes compete by their level of injury, not age. However, athletes who are over the age of 40 can compete in the "Masters" category if they choose.
Are there world class wheelchair athletes at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games?
There are. Although nearly 25% of the Veterans competing each year are first timers, there are many experienced wheelchair athletes who attend the event every year. Some of these athletes have competed on a national and international level. The Games enjoy a partnership with the U.S. Paralympics, a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Every four years since 1984, several athletes from the National Veterans Wheelchair Games have been selected to represent the United States in the Paralympic Games. Often, those Veterans return to serve as mentors to newly injured Veterans, offering them invaluable guidance and unequaled inspiration.
Who puts on the National Veterans Wheelchair Games?
The National Veterans Wheelchair Games are presented each year by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). Each year, a VA medical facility and a PVA chapter collaboratively host the event.
Why do the Games take place at different places every year?
Local VA medical centers and PVA chapters must submit a bid to host the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Organizers evaluate the location to make sure it is accessible to a large number of wheelchair users and there are appropriate venues for the competitions. By changing locations, more cities are able to enjoy the opportunity of hosting the Games, and the athletes are able to enjoy visiting new locations each year. Two cities (San Antonio, Texas; and Long Beach, California) have hosted the Games on three separate occasions.
How do the Veterans finance the costs to attend this event?
Typically, Veterans attend with local teams from around the country. The teams are usually part of PVA chapters, although a few are based at local VA medical centers. Most of the local teams conduct fundraising activities all year to send their athletes to the Games. A small number of athletes attend independently and fund their own trips.
What does it cost to watch the events at the Wheelchair Games (as a spectator)?
All competitive events are free and open to the public.
Can I support this event in any other way?
Yes. Come see the events and cheer our Veterans on to victory. For information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Paralyzed Veterans of America at 800-424-8200, ext. 705, or by visiting: http://www.pva.org/