Just in time for Veterans Day weekend, a Florida Republican teamed up with a California Democrat this week to unveil a proposal to help veterans attend Military Adaptive Sports Programs (MASP).
On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., introduced the “Warrior Act” which codifies U.S. Defense Department funding to help veterans attend MASP events including the “Warrior Games,” a series of athletic competitions pitting teams from the service branches against each other.
“These sports events, developed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded warriors,” Gaetz’s office noted. “Each service branch has created a robust adaptive sports program, and hosts events nationwide. Far more than just sports, these holistic healing events help wounded warriors recover in mind, body, and spirit. They feature caregiver training, art and music therapy, and more. MASP events are open to wounded, ill, or injured service members. Unfortunately, there is no specific authorization in the program for veterans.”
Gaetz explained why he introduced the legislation.
“The brave men and women of our Armed Forces have all made sacrifices for their country, and America is grateful for their service,” Gaetz said on Thursday. “Service members in my district and nationwide have praised the Adaptive Sports Programs, which assist wounded warriors on their path to recovery. Yet these great, healing events have been unavailable to veterans. We cannot and must not overlook these heroes. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Congressman Panetta — this small change will make a huge difference in the lives of veterans.”
“Veterans and disabled-servicemembers who served and sacrificed for our nation deserve our full support, including the opportunity to participate in the Warrior Games,” Panetta said. “I am proud to help champion this simple legislative fix, which will ensure that our nation’s heroes have access to an athletic competition that aids their physical and mental rehabilitation and recovery.”
The bill has reeled in supporters from the Sunshine State including U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., who is the vice chairman of the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee; U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla.