Sponsor Combat Veteran Outreach

Thank you to these sponsors!

Thank you to all our wonderful 10th Anniversary REUNION sponsors that made this combat veteran outreach event possible from January 13-17, 2022 at Reunion Resort in Florida!

About This Combat Veteran Outreach Event

Each year Tee It Up for the Troops hosts REUNION, a combat veteran outreach initiative to reunite battle buddies who have been separated due to reasons beyond their control. Through REUNION, participants not only reconnect with those they trust most, but also experience healing, and develop new relationships and support networks to help with their ongoing transition from battlefield to homefront.

Warriors re-connecting!
Warriors re-connecting!

Why Sponsorship Is Important

It is through the participation and support of sponsors and private parties that combat veterans experienced the healing of REUNION with their battle buddies. The cost for a warrior and their caregiver to attend this event is $1,500 and sponsorships help warriors and caregivers experience the benefits of REUNION. Sponsorship gives our combat veterans time together to discuss their post-military struggles, see their comrades in a supportive environment, and share tactics to help them survive and thrive at home. Sponsors also make it possible to bring together caregivers for peer support with the goal of increasing their hopefulness, skills, and knowledge. REUNION also provides access for veterans and caregivers to partner organizations’ resources.

Warriors and Caregivers Meet and Greet.
Warriors and Caregivers Meet and Greet.

How Do Sponsors Benefit?

Meanwhile, REUNION sponsors enjoyed time interacting with combat veterans and playing signature golf courses designed by three of golf’s greatest legends: Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and Arnold Palmer. Our sponsorship packages offered many businesses, foundations, and foursomes an opportunity to gain exposure as outstanding supporters of combat veterans and their caregivers. Learn more about how your company can get involved with sponsorship:  https://teeitupforthetroops.org/reunion-for-sponsors/

Sponsors enjoy time interacting with combat veterans and playing golf on signature courses.
Sponsors enjoy time interacting with combat veterans and playing golf on signature courses.

The Impact of Combat Veteran Outreach

Perhaps the impact of REUNION and combat veteran outreach can be better explained and felt by this video from the 2022 REUNION.  See for yourself the hope and healing this event brings to America’s veterans!

Thank you again for your support of combat veteran outreach and REUNION 2022! Together, we are making a difference for all those who serve(d)!


Trustone Financial Supports Veterans

To support Veterans during November, TruStone Financial Credit Union employees raised more than $1,000 for Tee It Up for the Troops with its Casual for a Cause fundraiser and the TruStone Financial Foundation contributed an additional $5,000. This company-wide fundraiser gives employees the opportunity to wear jeans in exchange for a donation to a designated charity. 

About Tee It Up for the Troops

Tee It Up for the Troops is a national non-profit organization, headquartered in Minnesota, supporting programs that deliver critically needed services to help Veterans transition from the battlefront to the home front. Tee It Up for the Troops focuses on six core pillars that positively impact Veterans including PTSD support, Employment, Suicide Prevention, and Sports Rehabilitation. To learn more, visit  https://teeitupforthetroops.org/ 

“We are honored to receive such a generous donation from TruStone – especially during National Veterans and Military Families Month – to help support our mission and America’s veterans,” says Tim Wegscheid, President and Executive Director of Tee It Up for the Troops.

“We strive to make a direct impact in our communities,” says TruStone Financial Foundation Chairman, Sam Stern. “The employee contributions, along with the donation from the TruStone Financial Foundation, will bring well-deserved support to the Veterans who need it most.”

(Left to Right) Sam Stern, TruStone Financial Foundation Chairman and Steve Steen, Chief Business Officer of TruStone Financial, presented the $6,177 donation check to Patrick Nelson, U.S. Veteran and Tim Wegscheid, President and Executive Director of Tee It Up for the Troops.
(Left to Right) Sam Stern, TruStone Financial Foundation Chairman and Steve Steen, Chief Business Officer of TruStone Financial, presented the $6,177 donation check to Patrick Nelson, U.S. Veteran and Tim Wegscheid, President and Executive Director of Tee It Up for the Troops.


About TruStone Financial

TruStone Financial is a full-service credit union that has worked to improve the financial well-being of its neighbors since 1939. Having been founded as a teachers’ credit union, education is driven into the mission. It has 23 branches across Minnesota and Wisconsin and is Minnesota’s second largest credit union, with assets of almost $4 billion as of October 31, 2021 and a mortgage servicing portfolio of more than $2 billion. TruStone was named one of 100 top-performing U.S. Credit Unions in 2020 by S&P Global Market Intelligence and ranked as a top five Best-In-State credit union by Forbes magazine in 2021. To learn more, visit TruStone.org.

About the TruStone Financial Foundation

The TruStone Financial Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2009 by TruStone Financial Credit Union. The TruStone Financial Foundation primarily supports financial education and programs through scholarships and outreach, while also engaging in general charitable giving in the communities served by the credit union. Learn more about the TruStone Financial Foundation at TruStoneFoundation.org.

Learn more about how your company can Support Veterans and Tee It Up for the Troops at  https://teeitupforthetroops.org/donate/




Support Wounded Veterans Like Derek Goodridge

Derek Goodridge, Wounded Veteran and Ambassador for Tee It Up for the Troops

Introducing Derek Goodridge – Wounded Veteran and Ambassador for Tee It Up for the Troops

Help support veterans like Derek Goodridge. Derek served in the US Marine Corps for 6 years deploying to Cuba, Jordan, Bahrain, Africa, Oman, Afghanistan. While deployed in Afghanistan as security for the EOD behind him, Derek was severely injured from a blast leaving him with no right arm, screws in his shoulder, a rod from hip to knee in his right leg, and 35 surgeries (and counting). Today, Derek is an avid golfer, veteran and wounded warrior ambassador for Tee It Up for the Troops golf events.

Wounded veteran Derek Goodridge golfing at a Tee It Up for the Troops event.
Derek Goodridge, outshooting everyone in his Tee It Up for the Troops golf group!


How You Can Help Support Wounded Veterans

Show your support for wounded veterans like Derek to help them get back on course! Your gift will assist veterans who are struggling with physical injuries and invisible wounds like depression and suicide.

To donate, visit: http://teeitupforthetroops.org/donate-now/.

Make a Donation in Honor of Someone

A son of a WW II Veteran recently shared with us that gratitude and understanding helped him resolve feelings about his Father. 

“I made an end-of-year charitable donation to Tee It Up for the Troops as a way to honor my Father, a WW II Veteran. My Dad, like so many current and former combat veterans, lived his life with the wounds of PTSD. I regret it took me far too long to accept and recognize the challenges my Dad faced throughout his life due to his experiences in battle. Writing a check is nothing compared to the price he and others paid for our country and our freedom,” Wayne Beacham, Proud son of Charles Beacham, Corporal, US Army, World War II.

Charles Beacham, a Veteran of World War II's Battle of the Bulge.
Charles Beacham, a Veteran of World War II’s Battle of the Bulge.


Donate before January 1 and Qualify for a Meaningful 2021 Tax Deduction! 

As the end of the year approaches, we hope we can count on you to support Tee It Up for the Troops and military families. Especially during these difficult times, we hope you will donate now and help us fight for those who fought for us!

If you are looking to support a cause that is near and dear to our military and veterans, you can make a charitable gift to Tee It Up for the Troops and claim a meaningful tax deduction for 2021. Here are 3 easy ways to give:

Thank you for your consideration and support!




Celebrating Milestones From Coast to Coast!

You may know a bit about the story of Tee It Up for the Troops from being involved in a tournament or two. However, you probably aren’t as aware of each event thread that has been carefully planned to create the tapestry of charity golf events that is seen across the country today. Tee It Up for the Troops is celebrating continuous growth with golf events held in over 40 states across this great nation since our inception. We are on a mission to fill the map of the United States by creating an event in every state!

2021 Event Anniversaries

This year marks numerous 15, 10, and 5 year anniversaries for many of our Tee It Up for the Troops golf events. From the West Coast to the East Coast and a sundry of points in between, commemorative events are being shared within their communities in 2021. Our dedicated event leaders, volunteers, golf club staff, and sponsors have been working hard to change the lives of veterans and their families by organizing amazingly successful, patriotic charity golf outings – year, after year, after year.

Congratulations to these Tee It Up for the Troops events for reaching major milestones, and more importantly, for your ongoing dedication to honor, respect, remember and support the brave men and women of the US Military:

Crystal Springs Golf Resort, Sussex County, NJ – 15 years

Oak Marsh Golf Club, Oakdale, MN – 15 years

Willow Creek Golf Club, Rochester, MN – 15 years

SeaCliff Country Club, Huntington Beach, CA – 10 years

Brackett’s Crossing Country Club, Lakeville, MN – 10 years

Mankato Golf Club, Mankato, MN – 10 years

Dan McCarthy Golf Outing, Kalamazoo, MI – 10 years

Wanakah Country Club, Buffalo, NY – 5 years

Golden Valley Country Club, Golden Valley, MN – 5 years

Dataw Island Golf Club, Beaufort, SC – 5 years

A Thank You From Our President

“These event anniversaries across the nation show a strong track record of dedication and service to our military,” said Tim Wegscheid President and Executive Director, Tee It Up for the Troops. “We want to take this opportunity to thank the communities, golf clubs, armies of volunteers, and generous sponsors for supporting our mission from coast to coast. You are making a positive difference in the lives of military veterans and their families!”

Celebrating Commitment to Veterans and Families

Each of our Tee It Up for the Troops events are put together by a committed leader, loyal volunteers, and dedicated sponsors. Our charity events are both patriotic and fun. Both volunteers and players enjoy themselves during the event while knowing they are doing important fundraising to serve combat veterans and their families.

We look forward to adding to the rich tapestry of charity events across our nation for 15 more years!! Let’s celebrate the continuing journey and carry on the storytelling of our brave military men and women as we “step up to the tee” to support our American Heroes.

Help Us Fill The Map And Honor Our Veterans!

If you or someone you may know would like to honor our veterans, fundraise for a wonderful cause and start a Tee It Up for the Troops event in any part of the country, please visit Start An Event. 





First Time Tee it up for the Troops’ Olympic Hills Charity Golf Event Takes Place on Flag Day

Flag Day is a special day that takes place on June 14, which commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States. June 14, 2021, was also a special day in Eden Prairie, Minnesota when the Olympic Hills Golf Course hosted its first Tee It Up for the Troops fundraising event honoring American military veterans.

Board Chair of Tee It Up for the Troops, Tom Groom, and his wife, Heidi, spearheaded the inaugural charity golf tournament. Tom, Heidi, and their committee of volunteers surpassed all goals set for the special day of golf on Flag Day in honor of veterans and their families.


 Veterans continue to deal with PTSD, thoughts of suicide, and other invisible wounds of war.  We are 100% committed to continuing the mission to provide our American Heroes with as much support as they deserve,” said Tom. “We are deeply grateful for the service of the military personnel and their families, and we are thankful for all the sponsors and supporters that came out to make this such a successful event.”  

Board Chair of Tee It Up for the Troops, Tom Groom, and his wife, Heidi, spearheaded the Olympic Hills charity golf event.


 Say A Fallen Soldier’s Name 

A patriotic opening ceremony kicked off the event complete with T-6 Thunder planes performing a flyover. Veterans and Gold Star Families were honored during the ceremony. A Gold Star Family has lost an immediate family member in the line of duty of military service. Ceremonies like this give a chance for fallen soldiers’ legacy to live when their names are spoken and remembered.

 Brothers in Arms Surprise Connection

Andrew Bachelder, a USMC veteran who was injured in a Huey helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2009, was the guest speaker for the opening ceremony. Bachelder, a five-time participant in former President George W. Bush’s Warrior Open, came all the way from Fort Worth, Texas for the event.

    USMC Veteran Andrew Bachelder – Keynote Speaker.


Right before Andrew spoke, the Gold Star families were introduced. As the event MC began to honor the first fallen warrior and his family, Andrew heard the words “… Fallujah, Iraq… April 4th, 2004. “My ears perked up and my attention was definitely keener of what was coming next because I was there that day,” said Andrew. “Then the MC read off CPL. Tyler Fey’s name and I almost fainted. I was in his platoon and we were together the night that he was killed.” Andrew, event coordinators, and the families being honored did not know that these two warriors, with an important and emotional connection, would cross paths this day.

When Tyler’s name was called, I was in shock and couldn’t think of anything other than his father who was sitting in the first row right in front of me,” Andrew said. “I had never met Tyler’s parents. I was overwhelmed with joy that I could make this connection and I know Mr. Fey was very moved as well. I know it can be healing and heartfelt for families of lost loved ones when you see one of your sons‘ brothers in arms.” Like a true soldier, Andrew was able to pull himself together from this revelation and shock and deliver a powerful message to the audience.  Following his speech, Andrew and Mr. Fey shared a very emotional hug and greeting. A seemingly chance encounter that had great meaning for one Gold Star father and one warrior. Tee It Up for the Troops is proud it can help paths like these cross for purpose.

An emotional connection. Andrew and Mr. Fey share a hug.


Players Tee Off and Raise Funds

There was great energy and fun once the players hit the golf course. Thanks to the generous support of corporate and individual sponsorship, wounded warriors get a chance to golf at these events.  Here is what one warrior said about his experience at the Olympic Hills Charity Golf Event:

“I just got home from one of the most amazing events I have ever been a part of! I had so much fun and I was with the most amazing group of guys! I learned so much from them and their support for the troops and Tee It Up for the Troops was amazing!! It’s been a while since I felt like a real person, being able to step out of my comfort zone and enjoy life and sports once again! I can’t wait to be a part of the next event! Thank you so much for thinking of me!”

The Tee It Up for the Troops Olympic Hills charity event raised money and awareness for combat veterans. Proceeds from the golf event will benefit the REUNION program which reunites wounded and injured service members who have been separated due to battlefield injuries or other reasons beyond their control.

Forty-seven percent of all post 9-11 veterans say it was difficult to transition back to civilian life. As a result of diagnosed PTSD, veterans have challenges with financial stability, problems with adequate medical care, and struggles with alcohol or drugs.

Through the Tee It Up for the Troops REUNION, participating veterans and their caregivers can enhance their transition process into civilian lifestyles and enjoy therapeutic time on the golf course and participate in some educational, healing breakout sessions.

Get Involved and Make a Difference

Thank you to the Olympic Hills Golf Club members, staff, sponsors, and all the volunteers who made this an amazing charity event. Tom and Heidi Groom hosted one incredible event!


If you or someone you may know would like to honor our veterans, fundraise for a wonderful cause and start a Tee It Up for the Troops event on Flag Day or any day of the year, please visit Start An Event. 

Your support for our American heroes helps them get back on course and gives them the best chance of success once they’ve come home!





Post-9/11 Veterans Share Their Powerful Story of How They Reconnect With Each Other and Their Lives at Tee It Up for the Troops REUNION Event

The 9/11 attacks prompted the U.S. to declare a global “War on Terror” on September 20, 2001. Many patriots were prepared to serve and defend their country and their fellow Americans, no matter the risk. Two of those patriots, John Wilson and Ben Ransom, share their moving story of how a few days at Tee It Up for the Troops REUNION changed and shaped their future.

John Wilson, US Marine Corps

John Wilson joined the Marine Corps before 9/11 in 1999.  As John puts it, “I was going nowhere in life.” John’s little brother was looking to join the military and his dad said he should join the Marine Corps too. “I can’t let my little brother do something I can’t do so I joined up,” said John.  Both brothers were stationed at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan, where they linked up for the next year.

Ben Ranson, US Marine Corps

Ben’s older brother joined the service in 1999 and was in the Marine Corps Air Wing.  Ben took this as a challenge and decided to do a “harder job” and joined the Marine Corps Infantry Division in 2001.  Ben and his brother were also both stationed in Okinawa, Japan.  However, Ben arrived just two weeks after his brother departed the country. Ben spent a year in Okinawa as his last peacetime deployment before Iraq.

It would not be their bloodline brothers these two men would find themselves with during the fight of their life, but each other.  

Brothers in Service  

Both John and Ben found themselves back in the United States at Twentynine Palms, California, for buildup and deployment to Iraq. John had left the service in 2003, however, he volunteered to be recalled to active duty under a Presidential recall in 2004.   As a Scout Team Leader, John was placed in the same active-duty unit, the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, as Ben. Together they went through all the pre-deployment training in preparation for Iraq. 

Ben and John deployed only one time together to Iraq from June to November 2004, yet their time together will last a lifetime. During these five months, they fought together in Fallujah, Iraq during Operation Phantom Fury in one of the biggest urban battles since Hue City Vietnam.

Marines Ben Williams and John Wilson, both Purple Heart recipients.


Firefight with the Enemy  

On November 15, 2004, Ben & John’s unit was conducting a foot patrol in a small town near the Euphrates Peninsula just outside of Fallujah. On the way back to their vehicles, they found themselves in the heart of the action, taking fire and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG’s) from all directions. They immediately requested permission to assault. Ben yelled out, “I see them, I see them.” Regrettably, during the intense firefight and confusion, a misjudgment was made. The Marines moved down an alleyway that had six-foot walls on each side and no way out. That is when they got ambushed.  John took one shot in the calf. Ben sustained five rounds including to his thigh, through his flak jacket, foot, buttocks, and one that grazed his hip. With adrenaline rushing, all they could do was tell Ben to play dead and stop moving until there was a lull in the fire. While lying there, Ben got shot in the foot and decided his best chance at survival was to try crawling to the corner and get back to his fellow soldiers. While still under heavy fire, his comrades were able to pull Ben to a side of a building and check out his injuries. Ultimately, they were all removed from the firefight by a light armored vehicle.

Both Marines were ground medevaced back to Al Taqaddum Air Base in Iraq, where they rapidly parted ways. Ben was flown by Black Hawk helicopter to a mobile surgical hospital where he underwent his first surgery.  He was then flown to Germany for more surgeries before being sent to San Diego to recover. John stayed at the base medical unit recuperating until the end of the month. He then met up with his unit and finished out his deployment until he was honorably discharged in 2005.

John Wilson in Iraq.
Roadside scene near Fallujah, Iraq.


Battle Brothers on a Mission to Reunite

The two battle-brothers, who had not seen each other or spoken in person for 10 years, were on a path to be part of the Tee It Up for the Troops REUNION outreach program – a mission to reunite combat veterans and use their common bonds to work through post-military struggles after combat action.

Since the early years of the war on terrorism, Tee It Up for the Troops has been helping post-9/11 military veterans, and veterans from all other conflicts, and their families through the REUNION outreach program. The REUNION program reunites wounded and injured service members who have been separated due to battlefield injuries or other reasons beyond their control. Through these reunions, participating veterans and their caregivers can enhance their transition process into civilian lifestyles and enjoy therapeutic time on the golf course and participate in some educational, healing breakout sessions.

REUNION Outreach Program – Finding Each Other and Themselves 

“Ben is the only battle buddy I tried to stay in contact with,” said John. “When I had the opportunity to attend REUNION in 2016, I was like ‘WOW’…this would be pretty cool to see how he’s doing in person.”

 “When I got the call from John about attending REUNION, I was pretty shocked,” Ben said.  “Because some of my injuries were bone and nerve-related, I was on pain medication for the better part of a decade, and I was getting very discouraged. I had withdrawn from a lot of things and hadn’t had a lot of people, especially Marines, to talk to. I was also going through my second divorce at the time. It was a big morale booster to have John reach out to me about REUNION.” 

In January 2016, at Reunion Resort in Kissimmee, Florida, Ben and John finally got a chance to see each other again at the REUNION Event, after the traumatic firefight 10 years earlier and the quick evacuation that took them in different directions for recovery and life after war.

With life in disarray, Ben came to REUNION very introverted and guarded. “Being at REUNION, made me realize that my isolation was self-imposed,” said Ben. “If I put out a little effort to connect with others, I could find a few resources to help with coping that were healthier than the ways I had chosen. REUNION was enormously beneficial.”

John added, “Seeing Ben at REUNION was super emotional for me. It was an extremely positive experience for both of us.”  Both veterans will tell you that there is a certain level of comfort and familiarity being back with someone at REUNION that you shared a life-altering experience with.   

Ben and John reunite in person at REUNION after not seeing each other for 10 years.


REUNION Changes Lives

After REUNION and getting off controlled pain medication, Ben had an inspiring transformation. He describes it as a “domino effect.” He was able to file for and be awarded custody of his youngest daughter, Serena, 10, who now lives with him in the state of Washington. Ben enrolled in college computer information system courses and now has a job providing IT services and accounting for a livestock auction business.

Before REUNION, John went through months in a downward spiral where he was drinking heavily. It took a family friend taking him to dinner and intervening for John to see a therapist.  His friend paid for ten therapy sessions and went with him to the first one. Now, John pays it forward and tells other vets to see and talk to a therapist. Through this process, he learned about Tee It Up for the Troops and the REUNION outreach program.  Since 2007, John has been performing executive protection for Microsoft Corporation.  He currently lives in Washington state with his wife Shannon, and two sons, Benjamin, 10, and Aiden, 8.

Now living in the same area, these brothers in arms meet up every few months and stay connected by messaging and Zoom. Due to the type of bonds and experiences they built while serving in the military, and reuniting at REUNION, they now realize that being connected is an essential quality of life marker.

Ben Ranson, Patrick Zeigler, Tom Groom and John Wilson spend some therapeutic time on the golf course at REUNION.


Show Veterans You Will Not Forget!

Frustrated with the line, “We will never forget,” Ben’s experience once he returned home from Iraq, was that people did forget all the veterans who risked everything.  “Being at REUNION showed me that there are a lot of dedicated people actively spending enormous amounts of time and resources to help you reconnect and help with PTSD and other situations caused by war. It was just huge in my overall recovery.”

2022 will mark the 10th Anniversary of the first REUNION outreach program held by Tee It Up for the Troops. The organization plans on commemorating the event by hosting a “Reunion of REUNIONS” and bringing together battle buddies again like Ben and John to continue their journey to recovery.

Tee It Up for the Troops relies on corporate sponsors and golfers to assist us in reuniting combat veterans and to help them transition from the battlefront to the home front. This includes help for the hidden wounds of war like anxiety, depression, isolation, and suicide. 

Our sponsorship packages offer businesses, foundations, and foursomes an opportunity to gain exposure as outstanding supporters of combat veterans and their caregivers. We have developed sponsorships for differing budgets and commitment levels. You can also contact us to see if we can create a specialized sponsorship opportunity for you!  Learn more about REUNION Sponsorship Opportunities.

Your Sponsorship Gets Veterans Back on Course!!



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.