“Age isn’t how old you are but how old you feel.”
― Gabriel García Márquez
There are nearly 800 Veterans down in Biloxi who don’t feel old at all. They are on the Gulf Coast this week for the 31st National Veterans Golden Age Games May 7-11.
The annual VA competition is the only national multi-event sports and recreational senior competition aimed at improving the quality of life for all older Veterans including those with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. Veteran athletes will compete in 14 events, such as cycling, field events and swimming along with several exhibition events, including basketball.
Five years ago, Jacque Gresham knew nothing about the National Veterans Golden Age Games. But the life changes she made then marked the beginning of the 55-year-old Air Force Veteran’s preparation for competition at this year’s event.
“A few years ago, I decided to make a change,” Gresham said. “Through diet and exercise, I lost 60 pounds and feel so much better.”
“I don’t know what to expect with the games, but I am up for it,” she said. “I wonder how well I am going to do, competing against all the other Veterans.”
Husband and wife George and Roberta Hults are excited to share their common bond as Veterans with everyone participating.
Roberta is a U.S. Air Force Veteran and George served in the U.S. Army.
“I’m looking forward to meeting other Veterans,” said Roberta, 74. “You don’t meet very many women Veterans, and I’m looking forward to it.”
“I’m glad this is done for Veterans,” said George, 86. “The military was a big part of my life. It is something you can never forget.”
Doris Denton served in the Marine Corps from 1961-1981.
“A speaker from the Biloxi VA came to the Armed Forces Retirement Home, and told us about the games,” she said. “I thought, why not?”
A retired Marine sergeant major at 74, Denton doesn’t let something like a birthday keep her down. To her, “age is just a number.”
“I hope we have a great turnout of Veterans. Don’t let age be a factor. Get off your butts and do it. I will do the best I can, and I am excited to just participate.”
Staying fit and enjoying friendly competition
“At VA, we encourage Veterans to lead active, healthy lives, and recognize that sports, recreation and activity — in particular for our senior Veterans — are an integral part of any successful health and wellness program,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “These games are a great example of Veterans staying fit and enjoying friendly competition at the same time.”
For more information and a schedule of the games’ events, visit https://www.va.gov/opa/speceven/gag/ and follow VA Adaptive Sports on Twitter at @VAAdaptiveSport, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vaadaptivesports.