Three Missouri veterans set to compete in National Veterans Golden Age Games

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. – Three military veterans from southeast Missouri have spent the year gearing up for this summer’s National Veterans Golden Age Games (NVGAG) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

U.S. Army veterans Mary Jayne Bader, Perry James Sr. and Charles Webb will compete in the games from July 18–23. 

The event is a senior adaptive rehabilitation program for veterans ages 55 years and older, including those with disabilities. The games are a qualifying event in which, in most competitions, the athletes who place in the top four of their age group will continue on to compete in the National Senior Games. 

According to, the games serve as a preventive and therapeutic avenue of sports and activity that promotes the importance of fitness in physical, mental and overall wellness.

Bader, James and Webb train at the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff under their first-time coach, Recreational Therapist Caleb Campbell. Campbell says he believes veterans should be able to train year-round, and says the Pershing medical center provides that opportunity to service men and women. 

Participants typically exercise through walking, running, cycling, weight training, Tai Chi, yoga and stretching exercises.

Through its “Fitness for Life” motto, NVGAG participants compete in numerous events such as basketball, bowling, cornhole, cycling, golf, horseshoes and much more. In total, Campbell says there are over 20 different events that veterans can choose to compete in.

“These veterans that we have going to these games are some of our most dedicated veterans at this facility, and I couldn’t be more happy,” Campbell told The Heartlander. “I know they are going to challenge their peers to step up and join our team and take charge of their health.”

James has only missed two games since 2012, Webb is a first-time competitor and Bader competes on a promise she made to her father, also a veteran, before his passing in 2013. Bader has competed in nearly every NVGAG since, except for one event due to injury. 

“I’m excited to have them as my team. I’m looking forward to growing it and getting other veterans in our area to try out something new for their health,” Campbell said. 

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