National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic

Cory Buckman was nervous when he found out he would be attending this year’s National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego. His apprehension stemmed from his diagnosis of post-traumatic stress and the fact that, at 26-years-old, the OIF Veteran from Chicago would be the youngest participant at the clinic.

Back home, Cory’s anger and frustration with “civilians” tended to isolate him from gatherings and events. At the clinic, however, he quickly found the camaraderie he missed from his time in the U.S. Army and a new group of friends to break him out of his shell.

“I’ve gotten close with the [Veterans] from my team,” Cory said. “You know, I don’t know how to explain it – but it’s a bond I’ve formed that feels really good.”

A little over a year ago, depression brought on by survivor syndrome led Cory to finally access mental health care through VA. Like many young Veterans, Cory believed VA care was for those who had visible wounds and the elderly. He said his perception of what a VA patient looks like changed after meeting “other Veterans that were physically OK, but were still going through the same things I was going through.”

That first step toward care, and the realization that he had earned treatment through his service, got him to where he is now – kayaking with his fellow Veterans on Mission Bay in Southern California.

He said he’s faced many of his fears during the first half of the clinic, including his fear of water, and has found therapy through his interactions with fellow Veterans.

“Being in a place like this takes me out of my comfort zone of isolation,” he said. “I’m happier now. Just to have people around you that understand, because they’ve been there and done that – and I can learn from how they’ve come to terms with what has happened to them – it just makes me happy.”

Editor’s Note: VAntage Point is reporting from the 2014 National Veterans Sports Clinic, Sept. 7-12. This is the third in a series of blogs from the event. To learn more about VA’s Adaptive Sports Program, and the opportunities it provides Veterans with disabilities, visit

For more photos the National Veterans Sports Clinic, be sure to follow @deptvetaffairs on Instagram.



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  1. edwin September 12, 2014 at 10:38 am

    send the description of entire 5 days clinics.

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