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Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Pinnacle brings home gold to South Carolina
By Erin Curran, Public Affairs Specialist
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Army Veteran Don Pinnacle lights up when he talks about the National Veterans Golden Age Games. This year's games were held July 10 - 14 in Detroit, Michigan and it's Pinnacle's second year attending the event as the sole representative from South Carolina.
"I'm like the pioneer" said Pinnacle. "Carrying the South Carolina state flag [during the Parade of Athletes] was an awesome experience. I carried it proudly and I want to represent the state of South Carolina with a gold medal. That's my objective and my goal."
And that's exactly what he did! Bowling a 195 and a 160 in his two rounds of competition, Pinnacle placed first in his 60-64 men's age group. At home he bowls in a weekly league and all that practice paid off.
"I'm excited to bring home this gold medal! This is something I can take back to South Carolina and share with other people that suffer from PTSD and their various physical ailments to improve their well-being and their health," said Pinnacle.
Last year he attended not really knowing what to expect and was surprised by the competitive spirit it ignited in him--pushing him to return for a second year.
"My physical fitness was declining and since I went to the Games, it made me see other people my age and they are not letting their physical fitness decline. I'm in better shape than I was last year, but I still have a lot of room for improvement," said Pinnacle.
Pinnacle enlisted in 1974 and spent 24 years in the service as a parachute jumper with the 82nd Airborne and later with the Army Golden Knights. He's proud of his service, but it left him with wounds both physical and mental.
Pinnacle spent almost seven years in a deep depression after his wife left him and things in her personal life seemed to crumble. He isolated himself from family and friends.
In 2013, Pinnacle visited the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and was soon introduced to the Golden Age Games through their Veterans Enrichment Center. This year Pinnacle competed in bowling, horseshoes, swimming, table tennis and exhibition basketball.
"There are no couch potatoes here. If you expect to win, you've got to train."