Minneapolis VA Health Care System
Minneapolis VA Twins Volunteer at Snowmass
Christie Spevacek and Trisha Vilen are registered nurses, best friends and fraternal twins who volunteered to work the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass, Colorado.
Spevacek, a polytrauma nurse, has worked for Minneapolis VA Health Care System for 15 years. Her sister Trisha, former tow-truck driver, now medical/surgical float pool nurse, has worked there for five years. In Minneapolis, they work side-by-side, but here at clinic, the sisters are on opposite shifts. Although they aren’t working side-by-side, both agreed it was “still an amazing experience to get to work together, here in Aspen.”
The medical team at Snowmass, considerably smaller than their home facility, prepared for all sorts of scenarios to handle any medical issues experienced by Veterans. The team brought a wide variety of common medications in case luggage was lost. For any specialized medication not found in the clinic, the team obtained the medication from Grand Junction VA Medical Center.
So far, Spevacek and Vilen mostly treated Veterans who presented symptoms of altitude sickness and minor bumps and bruises, but the clinic is also equipped to provide continuity of care in all areas to include acupuncture care.
Spevacek and Vilen have been impressed with the Veterans who attended the clinic. Spevacek expressed a sense of pride because she saw Veterans go from the “initial stage of their injury, to learning how to walk again, and now to skiing, snowboarding and participating in other activities.” Vilen, married to a Veteran, also felt a sense of pride, “We come from a long line of Veterans, so it’s great to be here serving Veterans.”
For more than three decades, the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic has helped many of our nation’s most profoundly disabled Veterans overcome obstacles and challenge their perceived limitations.
The five-day event offers Nordic and downhill skiing, sled hockey, rock climbing, scuba diving and paddling in addition to adaptive sports workshops, educational classes and other activities. It is the largest rehabilitative event of its kind in the world and hosted more than 400 participants this year.
The Winter Sports Clinic is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Disabled American Veterans (DAV), with financial assistance from corporate sponsors and individual donors.