USRowing Awarded $500,000 VA Grant to Support Veterans

Photo: USRowing

16 December 2019

In a press release USRowing writes that the organization has received a $500,000 grant from U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for its Freedom Row program.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs announced that, for the sixth consecutive year, USRowing has been awarded an Adaptive Sports Grant to support community-based Freedom Rows programs throughout the United States. This year’s grant of $500,000 is the largest ever awarded to USRowing.

Freedom Rows, which is USRowing’s national program dedicated to changing lives for disabled veterans and members of the armed forces, has been awarded grants exceeding $1.8 million since its inception in 2014.

Freedom Rows has grown from six programs in its first year to more than 30 programs serving an average of 1,000 veterans each year. This year’s grant will allow USRowing to further expand the Freedom Rows program beyond the 32 existing programs.

‘This year’s Adaptive Sports Grant award is a true testament to the work and dedication that our USRowing volunteers and coaches put in to sustain and move the Freedom Rows program forward,’ said Manager of Adaptive Development Deb Arenberg. ‘As we enter our sixth year, it is clear that Freedom Rows is achieving its goals. Veterans in our program prove that people can change and improve their physical and mental well-being. We will continue to strive to provide the highest level of programming to meet the personal goals of every veteran with whom we work.’

The Grants for Adaptive Sports Programs for Disabled Veterans and Members of the Armed Forces (ASG Program) provides grant funding to organizations to increase and expand the quantity and quality of adaptive sports activities for disabled veterans and members of the armed forces. Funding allows athletes to participate in physical activity within their home communities, as well as more advanced Paralympic and adaptive sports programs at the regional and national levels.

‘USRowing is fully committed to supporting our disabled veterans and members of the armed forces through our Freedom Rows program,’ said USRowing Chief Executive Officer Patrick McNerney. ‘We are proud to offer the opportunity to introduce rowing to disabled veterans across the country. It’s exciting to see what a positive impact our sport can have on their lives, as well as the incredible impact our veterans have on boathouses across the country. The number of veterans participating in the program continues to increase, and those veterans are having an impact on our sport from the local club level to the U.S. National Team level. We look forward to providing many more opportunities during the upcoming years.’

Grant funds will be used to continue existing Freedom Rows programming, build additional programs, send qualified athletes to competition, purchase needed adaptive rowing equipment and supplement coaching fees.

Russell Gernaat. Photo: USRowing

Participants in Freedom Rows programs have reached the elite level, with more athletes expected to compete in events including The Head of The Charles Regatta, San Diego Crew Classic, USRowing Indoor National Championship and more. One Freedom Rows athlete – Russell Gernaat from Bair Island Aquatic Center in California – competed on the U.S. National Team in 2019. Gernaat now has his eyes set on qualifying for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

USRowing launched Freedom Rows in 2014 through the Grants for Adaptive Sports Programs for Disabled Veterans and Members of the Armed Forces. USRowing has partnered with VA rehabilitation hospitals and USRowing member organizations across the country with the goal of reintegrating disabled veterans and members of the armed services. Organizations that are interested in starting a Freedom Rows program can contact Deb Arenberg at

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