Vail Symposium celebrates 15 years of the Vail Veterans Program

Vail Symposium celebrates 15 years of the Vail Veterans Program

Honoring the Best Among Us

What you see first are the old injuries—missing limbs and angry scars.

What you hear when they start to speak are details of a journey no one should have to make—a journey to combat and home again, physically altered.

What you remember long after they stop speaking is the tremendous wellspring of wisdom and grace demonstrated by each wounded warrior.

In collaboration with the Vail Veterans Program, the Vail Symposium hosted a program to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the inception of the Vail Veterans Program, which brought three wounded veterans back to Vail years after initially participating in the program. Army Captain Dawn Halfaker participated in the program in 2004. Army Colonel Greg Gadson and Navy SEAL Lt. Jason Redman attended in 2007.

When asked what the Vail Veterans Program meant to him Col. Gadson emphasized that he was skiing just months after being severely wounded in Iraq. Capt. Halfaker remarked that she was 24 years old and felt that her career and her life were over following her injury. Coming to Vail rejuvenated them—each experiencing personal and professional success in the years that followed. Lt. Redman has written one book and has another due out later this year. Capt. Halfaker is the founder and CEO of Halfaker and Associates, which provides innovative technology solutions. Col. Gadson consulted Super Bowl XLII Champions—the New York Giants, starred in the movie “Battleship,” and runs Patriot Strategies, LLC, a government services company. He is also a highly sought after motivational speaker, for good reason.

Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Judging by how much she has given to wounded warriors and their families, Cheryl Jenson’s life must be immense. She is the force behind this remarkable program that rebuilds confidence and helps veterans make a new beginning in their lives.

It was an evening with no shortage of awe and inspiration, and one other critical element—humor. Laughter in the face of adversity may be one of humanity’s most potent weapons.

–Claire Noble

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