Wounded soldiers ski their way to healing

Ten IDF members wounded in service to join US counterparts for a week of skiing in Snowmass, Colorado.

ski 88 (photo credit: )
ski 88
(photo credit: )
Ten IDF soldiers who were wounded during the Second Lebanon War or the second intifada leave on Thursday to join US counterparts, wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan, for a week of skiing in Snowmass, Colorado. This will be the first time Israeli soldiers will participate in the Challenge Aspen rehabilitation program. It is geared to the physically handicapped and has been used successfully with US veterans. "Climbing the mountains of Colorado and skiing sends out a message to these soldiers that they can return to normal lives despite their handicaps," said Rabbi Menachem Kutner, director of activities for Chabad's Terror Victims Project in Israel, which is organizing the trip. The Chabad community of Aspen, Colorado, and local rabbi Mendel Mintz raised the funds for the project. Houston Cowan and Amanda Boxtel created Challenge Aspen. Previously, Cowan taught skiing to the blind. Boxtel, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a skiing accident, began exploring teaching techniques that could enable the handicapped full access to the recreations available in the Rocky Mountains. Ofer Meir, a paratrooper wounded on August 9, 2006 toward the end of the Second Lebanon War, hopes to overcome the psychological difficulties resulting from post-trauma syndrome. Meir, who lost an eye when two antitank rockets struck the building where he and his comrades were seeking cover, said he still could not talk about the attack in which nine of his friends died. "I hope that out there on the mountains of Colorado I'll be able to overcome the fears that still plague me," said Meir, 27, who has not managed to return to normal life.