Barstool Sports and 25 Longest Day Golfers Drive Donations to Support Tee It Up for the Troops and Veterans Mental Health

Each year, participants of the Tee It Up for the Troops  Longest Day of Golf at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Minnesota raise pledges from friends and family and tee off at the crack of dawn to golf as many holes as they can in a day. Backs and arms were sore the next day with 1,795 holes of golf played by 25 dedicated individuals during this year’s 2021 Longest Day of Golf for the Troops at Bunker Hills Golf Course on June 11th.

Barstool Sports and Veteran Hereos Tee It Up

New this year, the event welcomed combat veteran and motivational speaker, John Kriesel and Barstool Sports personality and blogger, Uncle Chaps, a Marine and Purple Heart recipient who hosts the military popular podcast “Zero Blog Thirty.”  Kriesel, Chaps, and the rest of the dedicated team members golfed from sunup to sundown, fundraising to assist disabled veterans and their families.

In 2007, Chaps McNealy was a Marine serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Chaps was a bomb-dog handler who focused on clearing IEDs with his four-legged partner, Csika. Chaps was medically retired due to injuries sustained from a gunshot wound and multiple concussions near Fallujah, Iraq. After years of struggling without answers, Chaps says that he finally became proactive in his medical care and sought treatment for PTSD and TBI. “Having PTSD and brain issues doesn’t make one weak,” Chaps says. “Recognizing that you need help and seeking that help makes you strong.” It’s the hidden scars – the mental ones of war – that Chaps is now fighting and trying to bring to light.

Chaps tweeted to his fans to donate.

 

Chaps, who flew in from San Antonio for the event, has most recently used his social media to send out messages to his fan base to donate funds to our cause at Tee It Up for the Troops. Chaps’ show and Barstool Sports as a whole have been doing this sort of thing for a few years. Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy accepted Chaps’ challenge on a previous pledge drive for mental health care for veterans and it matched Chaps’ fundraising efforts which led to a total of over $200K. Chaps and his fans are thrilled to help causes like these in any way they can. 

Watch Chaps and the other veteran heroes and participants in the Longest Day of Golf.

Heroes On and Off the Course

Chaps spent much of the day golfing and raising funds alongside Kriesel and Tim Nelson. Kriesel and Nelson were in the same vehicle on December 2, 2006, when a roadside bomb near Fallujah, Iraq, cost Kriesel his legs, injured Nelson, and killed two fellow soldiers and friends.

Chaps, Kriesel and Nelson. Hereos on and off the golf course!

 

John Kriesel, a Purple Heart recipient and retired National Guard Staff Sergeant, is currently a Director of Veteran Services in the Twin Cities. He is also a part-time contributor on KFAN Sports Radio and a former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. Kriesel’s drive and motivation were heightened that day in 2006 when he was nearly blown to shreds by a 200-pound roadside bomb in the parched sands of Iraq. He lost both legs and suffered numerous other major injuries. He is the author of “STILL STANDING: The Story of SSG John Kriesel,” winner of eight national book awards.

Combat veteran and motivational speaker, John Kriesel.

 

Former National Guard Staff Sergeant, Tim Nelson, who was Kriesel’s roommate and squad leader in Iraq, was in the Humvee seat behind him when it ran over the IED and was also injured. Nelson flew with Kriesel to the military hospital in Balad, Iraq, and held his hand when Kriesel’s survival was in doubt. Nelson received the Purple Heart from this attack.

Minnesota National Guard Sgt. John Kriesel, left, greets Staff Sgt. Tim Nelson after Nelson returned to Camp Douglas, Wis. in 2007. Kriesel and Nelson were in the same vehicle when a roadside bomb blast killed two soldiers and cost Kriesel his legs. (photo courtesy of Twin Cities Pioneer Press)

 

Dedicated Patriots Participate Each Year

Many other veterans were not as “lucky” as Kriesel, Nelson, Chaps and others. “Those veterans are the reason for the “Longest Day of Golf” and why patriots participate each year knowing their efforts are helping to make a positive difference in the lives of veterans who need it,” said Pat Reis, Tournament Director.

This year’s event reached an all-time high in fundraising. Team “Johnny D” led by John Deedrick, whose family has served in the military in past generations and worked in the defense industry, was the leaderboard winner for fundraising. Robert McGinty’s team conquered the most holes played for the day at 132. Many other devoted Longest Day Golfers reinforced the day’s success. Over the last eight years, the Longest Day of Golf for the Troops at Bunker Hills has raised over $165,000.

Wounds After War

Tee It Up for the Troops is a nonprofit that helps veterans heal from the visible and invisible wounds of war that have impacted veteran and their families. “This is a great organization and a great cause,” Chaps tweeted.  “After getting wounded myself, my close Marine friends were a lifeline. That doesn’t stop after service.” 

Thank you to all who participated and for your efforts to make this event a huge success in support of America’s veterans!

 

Crystal Springs Golf Resort – Golf Fundraiser for Veterans 

September 3, 2021, will mark the 15th anniversary of the Tee It Up for the Troops Crystal Springs Golf Resort Event in Sussex County, New Jersey. Besides being a commemorative year of the event’s start, it will also be a remembrance of many special veterans lost, including Retired Brigadier General Elie Younes who has a special connection to this military fundraiser.

Meet This Charity Event Team With A Special Mission

Robbie Younes is the Chief Operating Officer at Crystal Springs Golf Resort and a loyal and generous supporter of this military veterans fundraising event held here each year. He is also the son of  Retired Brigadier General Elie Younes who died unexpectedly just three months ago on March 22, 2021. Brigadier General Younes was a Lebanese Army Pilot trained in the United States at Maxwell Air Force Base and a decorated hero to his country and family. As Allies, the United States and Lebanese Armed Forces forge together to confront the dangers threatening us, particularly the danger of terrorism. Brigadier General Younes will be honored at this Tee It Up for the Troops event as an ally who risked his life for freedom.

Robbie Younes, C.O.O., Crystal Springs Golf Resort and proud son of Retired Brigadier General Elie Younes.

 

Brigadier General Younes’s legacy lives on in his son, Robby, whose dedication and loyalty to our military and veterans is steadfast. Robby is a dynamic, accomplished senior hospitality executive and oversees six properties including two luxury hotels, six golf courses, and multiple food and beverage outlets at Crystal Springs Golf Resort. Younes experienced many hardships in his youth when Lebanon went through a period of turmoil. He came to understand what could be achieved through hard work and ambition.

Robby delivers this same ambition and dedication to helping our American heroes get back on course at this military charity golf tournament. Mediterranean culture and the art of honoring your guests have been passed down through his family for generations and Robby ensures guests have hotel rooms, disabled veterans are catered to and respect is shown to all who served. Robby is proud to support our veterans and active military and we are most fortunate to have him closely connected with this highly successful event.

When reflecting on this year’s military fundraiser that will pay tribute to his father, Robby said, “This golf fundraiser is a major event here at the resort due to my highest respect for the troops and the sacrifices they make. I am the person I am today because of my father who was full of integrity and a fair leader. That is how I run this resort and regard this event.”

There is no better way to bring passion and skill to a charity event than the famous saying “two heads are better than one” Hence, meet Michael Guidice, Event Chair, for the Tee It Up for the Troops Event at Crystal Springs Golf Resort. “As a long-time Vietnam Veteran, I deal with the uncertain effects of PTSD,” Michael explained. “Working to aid others in the same or worse condition helps me with my personal challenges.”

 

Pictured above is Michael Guidice and his wife, Rosemarie, who lead the organization of this successful event.

 

When Michael and co-founder, Debby Campbell, fielded their first military fundraising event fifteen years ago, they had 80 players. Now they average 200 players and even during last year’s COVID slowdown they had 170 participants. Tee It Up for the Troops has been successful in its efforts in New Jersey through the efforts of its organizers, sponsors and wonderful, generous participants.

Michael speaking at the Opening Ceremony with the singing group, Harmony In Motion, behind him.

 

 

The “ladies in red” singing the National Anthem.

 

Impactful Military Fundraising Ideas and Support

To raise more funds and awareness over the years for this veteran charity, the committee has added military fundraising ideas such as auctions, raffles, Master’s memorabilia, course games and a unique meet and greet featuring decorated warriors. “If you have a chance to start one of these military fundraisers or get involved, do it! You will be rewarded by meeting our wounded heroes and spending a round of golf with someone who lost part of themselves for our freedom and our flag,” added Michael.

Proceeds from this local charity tournament in Sussex County, NJ will support critical areas of need, including suicide prevention, veteran employment, PTSD and traumatic brain Injury rehabilitation, family and caregiver support, housing and homelessness, golf and sports rehabilitation, and the Tee It Up for the Troops REUNION that reunites combat veterans with their comrades from the battlefield.

One of the veteran’s foursomes.

 

Hosting a First Class Golf Fundraiser For Veterans

This event is held at Crystal Springs Resort, a spectacular NJ vacation destination, acclaimed as the New York Metro area’s most unique four-season resort. Located in the rolling farmland of the Garden State’s picturesque northwest, this world-class NJ resort is just an hour from New York City.  For more information on this September 3rd event click HERE.

Rest in Peace Retired Brigadier General Elie Younes as we prepare to honor you and your life of military service at this 15th-anniversary charity event. Your son and all the dedicated people associated with this Tee It Up for the Troops event will carry on the mission!

 

 

Turning Pain Into Purpose With The Help of a Veteran Support Organization

Veterans On Course: Patrick Nelson, Turning Pain Into Purpose With The Help of a Veteran Support Organization

Although former Army Staff Sergeant Patrick Nelson experienced great loss while serving in the military, he also found a new sense of purpose and drive that is helping a veterans support organization.  “I don’t think I would be where I am today without Tee It Up for the Troops,” said Patrick. “This military fundraising organization has done so much for me – beyond the golf course. Tee It Up for the Troops has taught me the importance of sharing my story and how it can impact others.”

Finding a Better Future

Having faced a tough childhood and not having any future leadership, Patrick joined the Minnesota National Guard as a junior in high school. The way Patrick saw it, he needed a place to find involvement, love, and accomplishment and this was the military.

Patrick graduated from high school in 2001 and started school at Ridgewater College in Willmar, MN in August.  A few weeks after school started, the attacks of 9/11 happened. Patrick knew that the National Guard would not be the first to be mobilized. Two days after the attacks, he left college and joined the active military.

Patrick served almost seven years in the Army as a paratrooper with the historic 173rd Airborne Brigade, splitting his time between Vicenza, Italy, and Bamberg, Germany. As he rose in the ranks, he went from being a commoner to a howitzer section chief and squad leader.

Patrick has deployed three times for a total of 39 months in support of the Global War on Terrorism. He spent 12 months in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, 12 months in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2006, and 15 months in Afghanistan again in 2007 to 2008.

Changing Lives in an Instant

On 8 June 2005, Patrick was wounded by a rocket while conducting a helicopter resupply mission to his small forward operations base (FOB) on the Pakistani border. He and nine other soldiers were standing next to the helicopter when things changed in an instant. Patrick remembers being picked up and slammed to the ground. He remembers hearing an incoming rocket and he dove under the Humvee for cover as rockets impacted all around. As soon as the barrage ended, he crawled out and ran to help other soldiers on the ground. A Marine yelled to Patrick that he had been hit. He turned to look at the back of his uniform which was shredded, blood was pouring out and he was in pain.

Patrick recovering from injuries in Pakistan.

Two soldiers were killed that day, and eight others were wounded, including Patrick. As Patrick says, his wounds were very minor compared to everyone else. The two soldiers literally standing beside him were killed and he left with some small holes in his back.  Patrick was medevacked from the area to receive treatment. They removed several pieces of shrapnel from his back but left some too deep to remove. 

Patrick returned to his FOB in Afghanistan within weeks of being injured. He was not allowed to conduct missions while he was still in recovery. He was also suffering from PTSD symptoms from the attack. Patrick worked with Special Forces and Navy Seals, which meant they had a large Internet connection.  On his own time, he started taking online courses to complete his college degree.

“I was motivated by the fact that no one from my family had ever gone to college let alone graduated from it,” says Patrick. “My platoon leader at the time, Jon Post, was also a huge inspiration and driving force for me to take the classes.”

And drive and determination he had! Patrick double majored in history and sport management, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He also holds two Master’s Degrees, one in Sport Management and the other in Organization Development.

From Soldier to Civilian

Patrick was honorably discharged from the Army in December of 2008. He earned a Bronze Star and the Purple Heart during his service to our country. Patrick and his wife, Shanna, moved back to Minnesota where they are raising three daughters, Hazelyn, Haddie and Haven.

Patrick Nelson Family
Patrick and his wife, Shanna, and their three daughters, Hazelyn, Haddie and Haven.

 

Like most U.S. Veterans, Patrick found the transition to civilian life tough, and to cope with survivor’s guilt and other post-battle symptoms he tried to drink the pain away or wash it away with pills. “I was in a lot of pain physically and became addicted to opioids for five years. It’s a miracle I survived this,” Patrick said. And of course, he found that none of that worked. He learned over time, that he could not change the past, but he could influence the future.

“I had the honor of serving with some of the best our country has to offer, and I’ve made it my mission to share their stories of service and sacrifice,” Patrick explained. “These hero’s stories can have an impact on others and any opportunity I get, I am willing to share their stories and help others. I also carry their legacy through everything I do – from being a husband and father to an advocate for wounded veterans. Sitting idle is not an option when so many have sacrificed for our freedom.”

Now, as a civilian, he has turned his focus to helping others in a different way. He took his story that could connect and influence other veterans and started a combat-related website to help others share their stories. Then he moved to use his personal experiences to help facilitate leadership development for companies. Patrick eventually founded Loyalty Point Leadership,  a leadership training and development consulting firm where today he inspires others to be impactful leaders through his motivational speaking, leadership development, safety leadership, and consulting through this veteran-owned company.

Inspiring Vets with His Story

Off the leadership field, Patrick serves his community by actively volunteering with Tee It Up for the Troops, a veteran support organization that runs golf tournaments to help wounded warriors. “Tee It Up for the Troops is so much more than just golf. I had never swung a club in my life until this organization came into my life. I fell in love with the game – and I am a terrible golfer. But it has provided me the opportunity to remain active and connected with others. They also have great connections and relationships with other veteran-related resources that can always help you find what you might be looking for.” 

Patrick with veteran support organization friends at a recent Tee It Up for the Troops event.

Patrick has faced challenges in his life that many will never have. His time in combat, alongside the other brave men and women he served with, was one of service and sacrifice. These experiences helped to position him as the leader he is today.  

We hope you find a way to support a veteran like Patrick and so many other military heroes like him. You can donate immediately here: Donate Now | Tee It Up for the Troops or consider joining or sponsoring a Tee It Up for the Troops Golf Event here: Local Military Charity Events | Tee It Up for the Troops.