"I came to a place with 600 guys just like me".
2019 Participant Bio
Seeing Life from a Different View
Jason Polluck, wheelchair bound and gleaming, attended the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic for the third time this week. He spent nine years in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer before settling down in rural Salem, New York. “I’m from a rural place,” he explained. “No one else is in a [wheel] chair.”
It was at the wheelchair games that Jason found 600 people just like him. The Wheelchair Games is just one of six national events held annually by the Department of Veterans Affairs. “I came to a place with 600 guys just like me,” Jason said. “At home, no one else goes through the same things I do. When I was [at the Wheelchair Games] I bet five out of the six guys I’m with experiences exactly what I do.” Just like the Wheelchair Games, comradery came easy during the Winter Sports Clinic. Even though Jason is a first timer, he found that the relationships were the most important.
“Outside of sports, the best times are with the guys,” Jason said. Jason skied for the only fourth time since his injury during the Clinic. He also got a chance to play sled hockey. “Coming here, I didn’t want to do the same things I could do at home,” he said. “Naturally, I had to play sled hockey. I actually took a pretty good hit. Once I found out the guy that hit me was an [U.S. Army] 10th Mountain [division] guy, I was okay with that.”
Because of his positive experience with adaptive sports, Jason encourages others to dive in. His local VA team, Team Albany, chat regularly. “We have a monthly meeting that we all talk, catch up and make sure all of our stuff is up to date. Team Albany is always the first ones to have their paperwork in.”
Jason also keeps in touch with veterans he’s met from around the country. He said they talk on social media to make sure everyone is still participating in the events. Although Jason remains optimistic, he said there are still days he doesn’t feel great about being in a wheelchair.
“There are days where life doesn’t live it up to the brochure,” he explains. “Then I come to one of these events and someone else has it way worse. They’re in a chair and they’ve been skiing for 10 to 15 years.”
After his first time down the mountain, Jason described the experience as tiring – but in a good way. He is scheduled to ski the Rockies again on Thursday.