The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a National Games Program which allows Veterans of all ages and ranges of ability, to participate in a vast array of activities. From skiing to shooting and surfing to golf, there is something for everyone. Just ask some South Texas Veterans and they’ll be happy to tell you their stories.
Tommy Hernandez is a former Marine Machine Gunner who spends a lot of time at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS) helping with arts and crafts. He also happens to be a two time participant in the National Veteran Golden Age Games, most recently in Hawaii in 2011. Not content to just participate, Hernandez works hard and sets goals to win medals, receiving two silver medals in the 2011 games – one for checkers and one for croquet. Reaching his goal of two medals, he’s decided he wants 3 next year, but wants to win gold.
All told, San Antonio Veterans brought home 8 medals from various events, including cycling, swimming and bowling as well as the events Hernandez placed in. Out of more than 3000 Veterans the STVHCS serves this may not seem like a big number, but considering that participants in the Golden Age Games have to be older than 55 the wow factor grows considerably.
So, why does Hernandez participate in the games? His answer is simple: meet other Veterans, make new friends, and compete. His attitude about the whole thing is one of the endearing qualities he possesses. He said, simply “It’s fun no matter whether I win or lose. It keeps me young, keeps my mind active and allows me to visit with old friends and make new ones.”