Paralympic Sports: Changing Veterans Lives

November 2nd, 2011
The United States Olympic Committee is a leader in the Paralympic sports movement and dedicated to assisting physically disabled Americans. Widely known for its competitive sports programs, the USOC is not just about competitive sports. Their diverse programming also facilitates training and employment opportunities that benefit health and self-esteem. By providing grass roots programing in local communities this thriving network encourages disabled veterans to live an active lifestyle and enjoy a better quality of life. Tune-in to Charlie Huebner and Mark Goulart talk about the great strides the USOC Paralympic programs have made to change veterans lives. Visit the USOC Paralympics website to get involved and learn more.


Charlie Huebner , Chief, United States Olympic Committee Paralympics

Mark Goulart, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP


Show Highlights:

• Origins of the Paralympics sports movement
• How the USOC Paralympics partnership with the VA and DoD is enhancing the lives of Veterans
• A look into USOC Paralympics sports and grass roots programming in local communities
• How Paralympic programs are getting Veterans back to work and play
• Warrior Games highlights
• How to become supporter and attend the Warrior games in Cold springs, Colorado

The following is a full transcript of FedCentral’s interview with Charlie Huebner and Mark Goulart conducted by Jane Norris on Nov. 2nd, 2011.

Jane Norris
Welcome to FedCentral, brought to you by Deloitte, a program where executives and federal government leaders talk about the issues and initiatives that are making a real impact on the business of government today, to help government help America.

Today, we’re going to talk about Paralympics. The United States Olympic Committee is a leader in the Paralympics sports movement and dedicated to assisting physically disabled Americans. But the USOC is not just about competitive sports. Their diverse programming also facilitates training and employment opportunities that benefit the health and self esteem of participants. By providing grass roots programming in local communities, this thriving network encourages disabled veterans to live an active lifestyle to enjoy a better quality of life. Today we’re discussing how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense are partnering with the U.S. Olympic Committee, Paralympic division to use sports programs to change the outlook of disabled veteran’s lives. We welcome Charlie Huebner, Chief of USOC Paralympics. Charlie, welcome to the show.

Charlie Huebner
Thank you for having me.

Jane Norris
And also Mark Goulart, Principal with Deloitte Consulting. Mark.

Mark Goulart
Hello. Good morning.

Jane Norris
Let me just give you a little background on these gentleman. Charlie Huebner is currently the Chief of Paralympics for the U.S. Olympic Committee and he serves as the Senior Manager of the Paralympic programs across all USOC divisions. Charlie has always been very active in community volunteerism programs and sits on the board of numerous organizations. He one of the nation’s top sports advocates for people with disabilities. And in 1996, Charlie was one of 41 Americans to win the prestigious Jefferson Award for community service.

Mark Goulart is a principal and the lead client service partner for Deloitte’s Veterans Affairs. He leads a cross functional team, providing services across the VA and is also responsible for Deloitte’s day to day client relationships. Mark also serves as Deloitte’s Senior Representative to the United States Olympic Committee’s Paralympic military program and is coordinating Deloitte’s activities in support of veterans and wounded warriors. Mark also served as an officer in the U.S. Army from 1983 to 1987 and is passionate about veteran’s awareness.

Gentlemen, thank you both. And I’ll start with this question for you, Charlie. I’ll ask – because Paralympic awareness is growing in the United States, but maybe not top of mind for every American or even every sports enthusiast. Talk to us a little bit about the Paralympics and the difference between the Paralympics and maybe the Special Olympics, which people are very aware of.

Charlie Huebner
Yes, absolutely. The Paralympic program is focused on persons with physical disabilities and is providing sports and physical activity for individuals with physical disabilities. The Special Olympics, which is a partner organization of the U.S. Olympic Committee, is focused on sport programming for persons with intellectual disabilities. So, one of the objectives of the U.S. Olympic Committee, now that we’re responsible for Paralympic sport in the United States, is to really educate Americans about the differences between the two organizations and programs.

Jane Norris
And so, a little bit of history about the movement, the Paralympics movement. Has it been around a long time? Maybe since the World Wars? Or is it more recent?

Charlie Huebner
Yeah. The Paralympic movement has been around since post-World War II and it really began with injured military personnel. Using sports as part of rehabilitation for Veterans returning from World War II. And the United States and the United Kingdom were significant leaders in the development of Paralympic sports after World War II. The U.S. Olympics Committee’s role was somewhat new to taking the leadership role in Paralympic sports. And we’re one of only four national Paralympics committees in the world that actually manage both the Olympics and Paralympic programs. Most countries have two separate entities. So, we’re very proud of the fact that we lead an effort to integrate and manage both the Olympic program and the Paralympic program.

Jane Norris
So, the reason that Deloitte is involved in this is because we’re one of the sponsors for one of the Paralympic activities, a very big one that we’ll get to and talk about later. But these are partnerships and you have quite a few of them with public and private organizations. Why are these collaborations important? Mark, why don’t you talk about that?

Mark Goulart
Something we learned is the USOC has partnerships with many organizations. Some that are our clients, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. So, being a partner with the USOC and a collaborator makes good sense for us to work with them closely. And of course, building partnership also creates great collaborative efforts and brand awareness. And that’s why we’re involved here with the USOC.

Charlie Huebner
In these times collaboration is absolutely incredible. What’s going on in the country and what’s going on in communities all over the United States we see collaborative relationships being critical to success and also being cost efficient. We’re unique and a lot of organizations have come to us because the U.S. Olympic Committee has more 50 member organizations that are part of the Olympic movement. Groups like the National Recreation and Parks Association and U.S.A. Swimming, where we have a footprint in communities all over the United States. We have that footprint, that staff, and the facilities. What was lacking in the U.S. and what we’re really focused on, in collaboration with our partners, both corporate, private and government, is there’s a lack of expertise in the United States on how to provide programs for persons with physical disabilities.

And a specific emphasis, for us, in that space, is kids with physical disabilities, where every day in a community somewhere in the United States, a kid acquires a physical disability, whether it’s to an accident or illness. And we have more than 40,000 injured members of our armed forces returning home right now to communities that, in many cases, don’t have the expertise to provide physical activity for a person with physical disabilities. So, through collaboration, through partnership with organizations like Deloitte – and especially Deloitte, with their expertise – we’ve created a model that can cost efficiently provide the training, the technical assistance and the programming, utilizing our partners all over the U.S. to meet those needs.

Jane Norris
Describe what that looks like. Because I think, you know, we’re talking about what it may sound like as a business case, but talk about what that really looks like. Mark, I know you’ve experienced some of this.

Mark Goulart
Yeah. And it’s something Charlie and I talked about early on. We have offices in nearly every state here in the United States. And for us, there’s a deep, personal connection to the community side, as Charlie mentioned. So, what it looks like for us is really an outreach that we can get into the communities where we live and work. And see that we can provide value added support.

And so, there’s a great degree of interest, I guess, from our partners and from the local communities in which we serve. And so, it’s an easy sell, so to speak, for the folks here at Deloitte. How do we get involved? It’s just in our backyards. And so, that’s what Charlie talks about. It happens in your backyard. It makes it an easy opportunity for us to support them.

Jane Norris
And so, these are programs that put disabled athletes – people that have maybe been in sports activities in the past – back into those activities. And the outcome really is to facilitate better life, better engagement in the community. Maybe sometimes a reawakening after they returned from the battlefield?

Mark Goulart
Sure. I mean part of the times, it’s just getting them back in on the swing of things. Right? Especially when you look at a veteran or wounded warrior who returns and – Charlie will tell you – we’ve experienced many stories of veterans who just need a bit of a jumpstart. So the community programs are so important for them, just to get started. To get back into the swing of things. So, the partnership that we have, and, of course, the programming from the U.S. Olympic Committee is really key. They can reach into the communities to Paralympic sports clubs. And that is the start of something really special.

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