Return The Favor: Veterans hit the slopes

SEVEN SPRINGS, Pa. (WHTM) – “I’m having a hard time getting the grin off my face,” Paul Fisher said while doing something he never thought he’d be doing.

“I lost my leg three-and-a-half years ago and I thought that was the end of any chance of skiing,” he said.

The 75-year-old Elizabethtown man spent 30 years serving our country. On this day, for the first time since losing his leg, he’s hitting the slopes thanks to the Wounded Warrior Patrol. The organization offers all-expenses-paid ski vacations to veterans and their families.

This year, Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Somerset County hosted the event.

Along with having a great time in the snow, it’s a chance for these vets to catch up on old times.

“Every veteran has a story, and there’s not one story that’s more important than any other,” said Dr. Kenneth Graf. “What is important is for them to relate to one another get these stories out.”

Graf is chief of surgery at the Lebanon VA Medical Center. He’s served five tours of duty beginning in Vietnam, including deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. The ski vacations are the perfect opportunity for him to see the progress his patients have made.

“So often I would think here’s an individual who came here as a whole and may be going back a triple amputee,” he said, “I’m wondering what’s going to become of them.”

Doctors who treat wounded soldiers don’t often get to see the results of their hard work. That’s why this program is so special to Graf.

“When Wounded Warrior Patrol came along and we started getting some of these folks out in freedom, doing things they’d never thought they’d be able to do, for me it’s a little personal closure,” he said.

“It’s been 20 years since I’ve really been active, running into people,” said Fisher, “This has been fantastic.”

The Wounded Warrior Patrol is based in Carlisle and is run entirely by non-paid volunteers. They hold fundraisers throughout the year to pay for the annual ski trip.

If you’re a veteran, or know a veteran who might be interested in going check out http://www.woundedwarriorpatrol.org/

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