Veterans use the rock wall at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital as part of their rehabilitation

These incredibly competitive Veterans are "warriors"

Most Veterans don’t expect to see a rock wall when they visit the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center, much less one right in the center of the facility, but the 24-foot wall is a fitting reminder of what the center does for Veterans everyday.

“The rock wall is pretty much the center of what rehabilitation is. The patients are able to physically see the height and reach for their goals, which rehab is, it’s reaching for functional goals,” said Cathy Williams, a recreational therapist at the Tampa VAMC and one of the leading advocates for the rock wall.

The Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center also serves active duty military members. An active duty Marine told Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted adviser to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during his visit to the Tampa VAMC, “For me this [rock wall] has been the most help that I have received in my treatment since I’ve been back from Afghanistan. Anybody who is willing and ready for help, I would recommend this for them.”

“These Veterans are incredibly competitive, they are warriors. They compete against each other every day,” said Larry Miller, a physician assistant on the TBI Prep Team at the Tampa VAMC.

If you are interested in physical activity as part of your care, contact your local VA facility’s recreation therapy service. Veterans can also use the VA Adaptive Sports Club Finder to find a training facilities nearest them.


Tim Hudak

  joined the VA in December 2013 and is on the Veterans Experience Office team. Tim, a Chicago-land native enlisted in the Marine Corps straight out of high school. As an intelligence analyst he deployed to Al Anbar province, Iraq with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 in 2006 and 2008. After the Marine Corps, Tim used the GI Bill to earn a degree in Intelligence Studies from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., and co-founded the university’s first student Veteran organization. Tim is active in many Veteran organizations.


  1. Leonard Regnetta    

    Tim Hudak work is educating the VA, Nationally, to what services and great programs exist in different parts of the country. There always seems to be an overwhelming negative connotation when the VA health care system is mentioned, but Tim is on the front lines to ensure that is not the case. At different VA’s everywhere there are great things happening and I’m happy someone is sharing that information. Great work Tim!

  2. Ryan Nitzsche    

    Another great piece of work by Tim Hudak! The climbing wall has become a rehabilitation goal for so many of our patients at the James A. Haley VA. Whether your challenges are related to physical health or mental health, climbing the wall raises your confidence in your ability to overcome future challenges. Thanks for sharing with the rest of the country.

  3. Annabelle Smyth    

    Thank you to all of the brave men and women that are fighting and serving our country. I think it’s important that we do anything that we can to help improve their quality of life, especially with the sacrifices that they’ve made. Thank you!

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