SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - More than 1,000 veteran athletes from across the U.S. will compete in 21 Olympic style events in the annual Golden Age Games.
The games empower veterans 55-years-old and older to lead active, healthy lives.
A small crowd gathered in front of Overton Brooks VA Medical Center Thursday morning to send off this year's team of athletes representing the ArkLaTex.
"For the 10K bicycle race I've been riding the bicycle around the area quite a bit, it gets tiring after a while, and I'm doing the air rifle as well so I've been practicing with my guns and there isn't much else to do," said Rookie Air Force veteran Mike Brooks with a smile, "I thought I'd try this year and see how I like it and understand there is veterans from all over the country going and I'm hoping to see some of the guys I used to know when I was in service."
Meanwhile Air Force veteran Jackie Perry is looking to defend his gold medal in the shot put.
"I found out last year that it was going on and then I found out that it's been going on for 32 years, and I'm like this is the first time I've ever heard of it," recalled Perry, "I said well I told Charles I'm in and I'm going to be in it as long as the Lord's willing and I'm here."
At the end of the day it's all about camaraderie and helping veterans stay healthy and active in their golden years.
"It keeps you in shape. Once you retire like most people, and myself included, say hey I'm retired I don't have to do anything else but after a while it's like okay you have to do something, if you don't move you're going to lose, so you got to keep moving," Perry explained.
"We're going to have a good time, and that's what I tell people," said Army veteran Walter Hood, "I can't guarantee you I'll win anything but I can't guarantee that I have a good time I guarantee everybody does."
The Golden Age Games kickoff in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Friday August 3 and runs through August 8.