Jill Atwood: Finding Hope for Veterans on the Slopes

Jill Atwood retired from her position on the WAS Board of Directors in July 2020. As the Director of Communications for the VA Rocky Mountain Region, she brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the WAS team. We are incredibly grateful for the time she served on the board, and we are excited about her continued involvement on the Communications Committee this year!

It makes the impossible, possible.  Turns I can’t into I can. And replaces fear with pure joy and excitement.  The moments are not subtle.  They are smack you in the face fantastic.  The transformation is as bold and beautiful as the landscape surrounding these magical moments.

I am blessed to have watched many of these moments, particularly with the Veterans I have come to know, respect, and advocate for.  Who knew a quick VA work trip to watch a few of our Veterans skiing and snowboarding with WAS would have such a lasting impact on me?  I wanted more.  I wanted more for our Veterans who suffer emotionally and physically due to their military experiences.  This program mends the broken and brings life back to those struggling in silence.  Suddenly, their physical injuries are no longer barriers to flying down a mountain on a bi-ski.  The fresh air, sunshine, and adrenaline do more for them in a day than months of traditional therapy in an office setting could ever do.

I fell in love with WAS that day; their people, the commitment, and the mission. Particularly Peter Mandler, founder, and the inspiration behind this gem of a program.  His passion and humility are a model for us all.  I have never met a more patient or kind man.

Not long after that experience, I was invited to join the board of directors for Wasatch Adaptive Sports.  Over the last five years, it has been my honor to share their successes and promote their mission through the Department of Veterans Affairs and throughout the community.  I have watched this small non-profit grow, refocus, and serve more people than ever before.

My time on the board will be one that I always treasure.  I have enjoyed making just a very small difference in an organization that has such a big impact on so many lives.  I can’t say enough about the vision and leadership behind the program led by Executive Director, Elizabeth Jahp and the entire WAS team.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your WAS family.  I will continue to promote and support you whenever I can.  You couldn’t get rid of me if you tried.