Adaptive sports program helps veterans stay connected through outdoor recreation

Participants say the VAST program, run by veteran and Olympic skier Kristina Sabasteanski through the New Gloucester nonprofit Pineland Farms, is even more important amidst the isolation of the pandemic.

| Ray Routhier, Press Herald |

In the two decades since he retired from the Army because of multiple sclerosis, Karl Smith has dealt with feelings of isolation.

For years, the 72-year-old Vietnam veteran from Falmouth didn’t get out of the house much, not knowing when his stamina and ability to walk would fail him. Last winter, he heard about Veterans Adaptive Sports & Training in New Gloucester, a program started by fellow Army veteran and Olympic biathlete Kristina Sabasteanski. Smith was quickly able to make connections with people and get outdoors for hikes, biking and archery – sometimes using a three-wheel walker and a recumbent bike.

In March, as the pandemic limited gatherings and forced Mainers to stay home, his connection with other veterans in the program only grew. Though he was unable to get together physically with other veterans for a while, he did not feel isolated. Keep reading