'Thanks USA' holds tennis clinic to help disabled veterans
Boyds, Md. (ABC7) —
Aaron Brooks needs some assistance to approach the net. But once there, he's ready to take a swing at a tennis ball.
"I thought it would be fun to play tennis and a new sport. Because of my injury, I haven't been able to play sports," said Brooks.
Brooks was a specialist in the Army, deployed in Iraq. His life changed in 2013, not overseas, but back home.
"I had a PTSD episode and I shot myself in the head," said Brooks.
Now he lives with a traumatic brain injury. But he survived, so he wants to keep living.
An organization that provides scholarships to military spouses and children called 'Thanks USA' held a tennis clinic in Boyds, hosted by a pro who knows how to serve.
"After I learned how to play tennis, people weren't looking at me like they had before. That's how it really changed my life, my self-esteem, my confidence," said Brenda Gilmore, the executive director of Prince George's County Tennis Education.
Gilmore was involved in a crash that left her in a wheelchair. That was in 1979. Now her swing is a hit for others in a similar seat.
"It kind of feeds my soul. I feel like being able to be active and do things that I enjoy is empowering," said Dawn Halfaker, who lives with one arm following a deployment.
Brooks was happy he made a decision to step away from rehabilitation to play tennis.
"I don't have any self-esteem issues, but to be active is something I want to do," said Brooks.
It is the first time for 'Thanks USA' to take a swing at using tennis to help our nation's disabled veterans. After today, they plan to do it again.