Jerry Braun would like to find a way to involve older veterans in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games and similar events.
Braun, 70, and her husband, Bill, 62, have been competing in wheelchair events for more than a decade. The Columbia County residents compete in the Masters division, which is open to ages 40 and older.
Jerry thinks her peers of similar age would be more willing to participate if there was a "Super Masters" or another division that wouldn't require competitors her age to compete against those 30 years younger.
"A lot of them don't want to compete if they have to keep competing against younger ones, because eventually they start losing their medals," Jerry said.
But Jerry and Bill have had little trouble going up against the younger crowd. The couple garnered numerous accolades from the 29th National Veterans Wheelchair Games, held in Spokane, Wash., earlier this month.
Jerry won gold in motorized slalom, power chair 200, and as part of a power chair relay team. She won silver in the discus and shot put. Bill also took gold in the motorized slalom and power chair 200.
Bill is a combat veteran who was wounded in Vietnam. Jerry is a Vietnam veteran and amputee, having lost her left leg. Both receive care at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Augusta.
Both plan to continue competing at various events the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs puts on each year. The couple participated in the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, which was held in the spring in Colorado.
Jerry would like to see more involvement among her peers. She and Bill often take home the gold, but they would trade a few of them for more competition.
Jerry said winning the medals was just "icing on the cake," and that her goal in competing is to get veterans to stay active.
"The ones I'm looking at are the older men and women that can really do something if they get out and get encouragement," she said.
For information on the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, visit www.wheelchairgames.va.gov.
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