SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Earlier this month, we introduced to you the ArkLaTex team of veterans who headed to New Mexico to compete in this year’s National Veterans Golden Age Games.
The multi-event sport is designed to improve the quality of life in our senior veterans.
Now there’s a little more excitement filling the gym at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport.
Some veterans are embracing a healthier lifestyle; and they have the hardware to prove it.
“You got to stay moving; if you don’t move, you’re going to lose it,” Air Force veteran Jackie Perry said.
It’s been nearly three weeks since this year’s ArkLaTex team returned from New Mexico.
And their sights already are set on next year.
“I’m going to add the discus and the javelin this year for next year,” Perry explained. “Trying to get my arm strength up and go for it.”
Perry said he is doing pretty good, considering he tore his bicep a few years ago.
“I didn’t think I could do anything. I couldn’t even lift a gallon of milk with it. To come out and get a gold medal last year and the silver this year, I’m doing good.”
Air Force veteran Michael Anthony Davis Sr. said he won two bronze medals on his first time out.
"One for shuffleboard and one for disc blind golf; and I’ve never played either one before. So it was great.”
He’s proof that the games serve a far greater purpose than just competing.
“Since I’ve become blind in one eye and very low vision in the other, unless I’m with my wife, I really don’t get off into things,” Davis explained.
“It (the games) gave me confidence. I used to feel as though I was handicapped, and now there is so much technology involved in things like that I’m able to just have a productive lifestyle, quality of life. And that’s what it’s all about.”
Navy veteran Leonard White said he didn’t do as well as he wanted to at the games.
"But I did pretty good, so I am inspired to train harder this year to compete and give a better competition next year,” he said with a smile.
“I have a first place in pickleball doubles, first place in pickleball singles, first place in discus, first place in javelin, second place in bowling and a third place in horseshoes and a first place in 100 meters,” bragged Joe Lodrige, a 90-year-old who brought home seven medals.
However, his trip home didn’t go exactly as he had planned. “I had a stroke on the way back,” he said.
“I believe what really helped me recover from it was the fact that I feel that I was in good physical condition. Hopefully mental condition also," Lodrige said, laughing.
Army veteran Shelton McCrainey likes the camaraderie, "... bringing veterans of different wars together and being able to meet other veterans and talk to them and compete, which we did very very well.
You can bet they’re ready to bring the heat next year, leading by example both at home and in competition.
“Keep moving and keep doing what you like to do, have fun,” Perry said.
The 2019 Golden Age Games will be held in Anchorage, Alaska.
These guys are already starting to raise money and are looking for sponsors to help them get there.
One way to help them right now, they say, is to buy popcorn from the cart Thursday mornings at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center.