LJCC forges partnership with Veterans Affairs

A photo of the blue Birmingham East VA Clinic sign with the VA building in the background

A new agreement between the Levite Jewish Community Center and the Birmingham East Veterans Affairs Clinic will give the Birmingham VA 50 memberships that they can distribute to veterans on an as-needed basis.

Discussions about the agreement started last year when an occupational therapy supervisor at the nearby Birmingham East Veterans Affairs Clinic reached out to The J. They were in search of a pool to use for their new aquatics therapy program. 

“As a partner with Veterans Affairs,” wrote Sarah Goodman, “The J can allow our trained and certified occupational therapists to provide aquatic therapy for our nation’s heroes seeking relief from the stress and pain associated with PTSD, as well as chronic injuries and physical pain. 

“It would be wonderful if we could bring our veterans to The J for aquatic therapy.”

The idea resonated with Brooke Bowles, executive director at The J. But she wanted to take the proposed partnership a step further. Instead of allowing the VA to bring patients just to use the pool for therapy, why not give them full memberships?

“We have so much going on here — from the Roz Feigelson Knitting Group to tai chi and the Sokol Fitness Floor to mahjong and bridge games and our summertime Thursday Family Fun Night pool parties,” Brooke explains. “It simply makes sense for sufferers of post-traumatic stress to have full access to all that our welcoming community offers.

“We’re thrilled to embrace this new group,” Brooke says. 

And it turns out there was more to Sarah’s original note, in which she outlined her prior history at The J that included being a camper, a swim and dive team member, and lifeguard. In addition, she and her husband hosted three athletes during the 2017 JCC Maccabi Games in Birmingham. 

“I know all about the wonderful activities and opportunities for inclusion that The J provides,” she wrote.