Veteran Support Brings Joy

Get That Warm Glow with an
End-of-Year Gift and Support Veterans

Would you like to bring joy by helping others in need around the holidays? Then please consider a year-end, tax-deductible gift to support courageous military veterans – heroes like US Army Veteran Danielle Green.

US Army Veteran Danielle Green 

Atop a police station, she was guarding in Iraq, Danielle lost an arm during a rocket-propelled grenade attack. She suffered many other injuries and had a lengthy rehabilitation to cope with.

US Army Veteran Danielle Green (second from right) and her Army comrads.
US Army Veteran Danielle Green (second from right) and her Army comrades.

                                                                    

“My prosthetic arm gives me the ability to function as an able-bodied person just like most individuals on the golf course. The ability to engage and find comfort with others on the course is what makes me feel alive,” says Danielle.

Danielle on the links.
Danielle on the links.

 

Our non-profit organization provides support for Golf and Sports Rehabilitation, as well as other critical areas of need, including Suicide Prevention, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries, Employment, Housing/ Homelessness, and Family/Caregiver Support.

Give online and check to see if your employer will match your gift below.

Donation to Troops | Tee It Up for the Troops | Online Donation

Be a Part of Something
Life-Changing with Your Support

What could be better than playing signature golf courses in Florida in January? How about an even better feeling of interacting with some of America’s combat veterans, while helping them to heal and get back on course?

Tee It Up for the Troops is seeking additional corporate sponsors for our REUNION event to assist in reuniting combat veterans who were separated due to battlefield situations. We are also seeking individual donations to support warriors and caregivers who want to attend this event.

REUNION helps combat veterans reunite, heal and get back on course.
REUNION helps combat veterans reunite, heal and get back on course.

 

REUNION Supports Combat Veterans and Their Caregivers

Our signature REUNION event offers sponsors an opportunity to gain positive exposure while helping warriors with the hidden wounds of war like PTSD, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Please click below to learn how to support these American heroes.

REUNION Outreach Program 2023

Giving Back to Veterans During National Veterans and Military Families Month

November is National Veterans and Military Families Month – a perfect month to honor and thank those who served our nation in uniform. November 11 is Veterans Day, a day when we honor and give thanks to those who have served our country in war or peace. Military Family Appreciation Month is an opportunity to recognize the sacrifices and contributions military families make that many times goes unnoticed.

Honoring Veterans – A Message from our President

As we commemorate our veterans and their families, we honor the individuals who have served our country for generations — those who served out of honor, duty, and love for their country, and some who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Our organization will always honor, remember, respect and support these America’s heroes. And we thank you, our supporters, for doing the same!

Hurricane Ian Relief Fund for Veterans

Veterans Day is a time to honor, remember, and give back. Tee It Up for the Troops has established a Hurricane Ian Relief Fund to give back to veterans, military members, and their families in regions of Florida that were significantly impacted by Hurricane Ian.

We are currently working with vetted veteran service organizations that are getting critically needed supplies (water, food, clothing, generators, fuel, temporary housing, lost wages, etc.) directly into the hands of these American heroes who need our help.

We feel so strongly about this urgent need that Tee It Up for the Troops will match every dollar donated to this fund up to $25,000.

If you are looking for an impactful way to thank a veteran and help a military family during National Veterans and Military Families Month, please consider making a donation by clicking on this link: Help Heroes Devastated By Hurricane Ian – Tee It Up for the Troops

For your tomorrow, they gave their today. Thank You for Stepping Up to the Tee for America’s Veterans! 

 

 

Hurricane Ian Relief Fund for Veterans

Tee It Up for the Troops, a national non-profit supporting all those who serve(d) in the United States Armed Forces, announced the establishment of a Hurricane Ian Relief Fund to specifically support veterans and military members impacted by the devastation Hurricane Ian left in its path.

Hurricane Ian Relief Fund for veterans can help those former and current military members who need our help,
Hurricane Ian Relief Fund for veterans can help those former and current military members who need our help,

 

Every dollar donated to the Hurricane Ian Relief Fund will be matched by Tee It Up for the Troops up to $25,000.

Your gift to the Hurricane Ian Relief Fund will go to military members and their families in regions of Florida that were significantly affected by Hurricane Ian. We are currently working with vetted organizations that are getting the most critically needed supplies (water, food, generators, fuel, temporary housing, clothing, etc.) directly into the hands of these American heroes who need our help.

 

Over 1.5 million veterans make Florida their home and the state has the 5th highest population of active-duty personnel and reserve members in the military’s five armed services. Now thousands are displaced, homeless and unsure where they’ll live or get their next meal.  Our veterans and military members fought for this country and served us all so we can have a better life. Now many have lost everything and it’s our turn to help them.

Hurricane Ian Relief Fund for veterans can help those displaced from their homes.
Hurricane Ian Relief Fund for veterans can help those displaced from their homes.

 

Tee It Up for the Troops is currently accepting tax-deductible donations through its secure website. Many corporations also have matching gift programs that will match your individual donation. To donate or learn more about this Hurricane Ian Relief Fund, visit:  https://teeitupforthetroops.org/hurricane-ian/

Honor Our Nation’s Heroes Through Service

Patriot Day and National Day of Service & Remembrance  –   September 11th 

As a part of Tee It Up for the Troops mission, we honor, remember, respect, and support the service and sacrifice of our military veterans and their families. That’s why on Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance, we encourage all Americans to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who served and those who were called to serve due to the events on September 11, 2001.

In honor of Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance 2022,  please join us to support U.S. military service members who have been wounded and injured in defense of our nation’s freedoms. Since our inception in 2005, Tee It Up for the Troops has hosted more than 600 charity golf events in over 40 states. So there are always plenty of opportunities to express your appreciation for those heroes who serve our nation.

Your support helps wounded and injured veterans.
Your support helps wounded and injured veterans.

 

Serve and Remember Any Day of the Year

You do not need to plan your National Day of Service or get involved exactly on 9/11 of this year. Instead, commit today and show respect for our nation’s heroes on Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, next year on 9/11, or any day of the year. Let our courageous service members, veterans, and their families know that someone does care. To honor our nation’s heroes, you could sponsor, volunteer, or donate.

There are many ways to get involved and help our wounded warriors through Tee It Up for the Troops!
There are many ways to get involved and help our wounded warriors through Tee It Up for the Troops!

 

How to Serve

Honor our heroes by participating in a Tee It Up for the Troops event. Find an Event

Remember the lives of those impacted by 9/11 by volunteering to start an event in your community or at your club.  Start an Event  

You could also volunteer to help at an existing event. Volunteer Here

Honor military heroes by donating to Tee It Up for the Troops. Click Here to Donate

Veterans Benefit from Your Kindness

Tee It Up for the Troops provides support for six critical areas of need for veterans and their families: Golf and Sports Rehabilitation, Suicide Prevention, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries, Employment, Housing/Homelessness, and Family/Caregiver Support.

Tee It Up for the Troops Pillars of Support
Tee It Up for the Troops Pillars of Support

 

Honoring military heroes who were impacted due to the events on and following September 11, 2001, is a way you can spread kindness and comfort to veterans and their families.

Community Service Partnerships

All Golf Services - a tremendous community service partner!

Positively Impacting Veterans and Military Families

Tee It Up for the Troops believes that by working together with other partners, we can meet more of the needs of veterans and families. By collaborating with other organizations who share our mission of community service partnerships for veterans, we multiply our efforts!

All Golf Services

We are so grateful for the continued support of All Golf Services (AGS), one of our core national sponsors and partners, for their steadfast support of our military veterans! AGS is a golf course marketing and promotion company with a strong passion for helping our service members, veterans, and the military through community service partnerships. All Golf Services places its fundraising programs at courses across the country, raising awareness and funds for military veterans and their families.

AGS fundraising programs are featured on over 45 courses nationwide. For Tee It Up for the Troops, AGS uses a couple of different par-3 challenges to raise money. A golfer pays a set dollar amount to be part of the challenge. The different challenges include hitting to the green, hitting within certain feet of the flag, or making a hole in one. Golfers can with pro shop vouchers, Visa gift cards, or other prizes.

All Golf Services - a proud sponsor of Tee It Up for the Troops.
All Golf Services – a proud sponsor of Tee It Up for the Troops.

 

Giving Back to the Community

“AGS was built on the three pillars of serving the golf course operator, the customer, and the community,” says Co-Founder Jonathan Mostyn. One of our favorite non-profit organizations we like to serve is Tee It Up for the Troops. We are passionate about helping our military community and being able to ‘make an impact every day’ along with our golf course partners is how we serve our communities.”

“Giving back to the military community is a gift that can be life-changing, not just for the veteran and his family, but for you and your organization as well,” added Mostyn. “I encourage you to check out the benefits of partnering with Tee It Up for the Troops.”

All Golf Services fundraising promotion on a par-3 hole.
All Golf Services fundraising promotion on a par-3 hole.

 

“We are extremely humbled and thankful to receive such incredible financial support from All Golf Services to support our mission and America’s veterans through the great game of golf,  says Tim Wegscheid, President and Executive Director of Tee It Up for the Troops. “Thanks to All Golf Services for “stepping up to the tee” to greatly enhance our mission.”

Tim Wegscheid, Tee It Up for the Troops President and Jonathan Mostyn, All Golf Services CEO.
Tim Wegscheid, Tee It Up for the Troops President, and Jonathan Mostyn, All Golf Services CEO.

 

AGS has raised $347,500 for Tee It Up for the Troops and our veterans since 2016! In just the last 12-month golf season, they have donated $107,316 to Tee It Up for the Troops! We look forward to your continued support and partnership!

Co-founders of All Golf Services are Jonathan Mostyn and  Steve Phillips. In addition to his extensive business experience in golf, Steve also serves as a commissioned officer in the US Navy Reserve. We at Tee it Up for the Troops thank him for his service! Jonathan is an experienced golf industry and business professional with nearly 15 years of sales and marketing experience. We thank both Jonathan, Steve, and AGS for their extremely generous support!

How Can Your Company Benefit from A Community Service Partnership That Supports Veterans?

Because the needs of our American heroes continue to far exceed our nation’s ability to meet them, Tee It Up for the Troops benefits from generous business sponsors that help veterans and their families gain access to the critical services and support they need and deserve.

We have many national business sponsors that know the power of giving back to our military veterans, being part of a community service partnership, and are truly dedicated to helping those in need.  Explore our national military charity sponsors here: National Sponsors. We also have Event Sponsors and many local sponsors not listed here that are critical partners and support American veterans.

We are so grateful for the support of all our partners who are committed to our veteran and military communities. Together, we are helping to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of so many!

We could not do what we do without those who support us.
We could not do what we do without those who support us!

Partner With Us!

If you are looking to promote your product, service, or non-profit organization to military veterans, their families, and the many men and women who “step up to the tee” across the country every year in support of our mission, please join us HERE.  

 

 

 

Why is Golf Great for Veterans?

Motion is the Lotion! Why is Golf Great for Veterans?

We all know that golf is a gentleman’s game. It’s a sport of integrity, honor, and respect which aligns perfectly with military service values. But did you know that golf can also be great physically and mentally for veterans?

Veterans Need Sense of Accomplishment

Many veterans of the Armed Forces find it difficult to adjust to civilian life after their military service. This can be due to many reasons, including the loss of a sense of purpose and community that they had while in the military, injury, depression, or isolation.

“One of the biggest impacts Tee It Up for the Troops makes on our veterans is that sense of community,” said Retired U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Daniel Acosta. A lot of us when we come back from our military service feel like we’re alone a bit. Tee It Up for the Troops raises awareness in our communities and allows people to embrace our veterans and engage with us and let us become part of the community that we love so much.”

One way to help veterans transition back into civilian life is to give them a sense of accomplishment through the game of golf.

How Golfing Can Help?

Golfing provides many benefits for those who participate. For veterans, golfing can help provide a sense of accomplishment. Whether it be learning the game, working to improve their game through practice, enjoying a sense of normalcy in their lives, visiting new places and golf courses, or knowing that they can play a physical game even with physical limitations, golf brings a sense of accomplishment.

Golfing can also help improve mental and physical health, as well as social skills. In addition, golfing can be a way to connect with other veterans and build a support network.

Veterans connect with other veterans at our golf events.
Veterans connect with other veterans at our golf events.

 

By providing these benefits, golfing can help veterans make a successful transition back into civilian life.

Golfing and PTSD

For veterans dealing with PTSD, golf can be a particularly helpful activity. The relaxed pace and social nature of the game can help ease anxiety and provide a distraction from intrusive thoughts. Veterans with PTSD often suffer from depression, anxiety, and isolation, and being outdoors in nature and good company can also be calming and therapeutic.

Many veterans who are looking for a way to stay active and connected, often consider taking up golf. It’s a great way to get some exercise and social interaction. There is much joy that comes from being out on a golf course instead of laying in a bed feeling disabled.

Warriors at our events have a great time!
Warriors at our events have a great time!

 

“I have experienced incredible healing from my involvement with Tee It Up for the Troops,” said US Army Veteran, SPC Colby “CJ” Geeker. “As a combat veteran, I sustained multiple traumatic brain injuries in Afghanistan. This organization is helping me and other soldiers heal and find peace. Tee It Up for the Troops has inspired me to pursue golf as a profession so I can help other veterans experience the same healing through golf that I have.”

Golf Helps Wounded Veterans

Getting out and staying active is not only great for veterans struggling with mental illness, it also has rehabilitative benefits.  Tee It Up for the Troops supports programs that provide adaptive sports and recreation opportunities for veterans with injuries and have rehabilitative benefits.

We have six pillars we support including golf and sports rehabilitation.
We have six pillars we support, including golf and sports rehabilitation.

 

Disabled veterans use golf as therapy and motivation. Golf allows veterans to feel whole again. Aside from the camaraderie and sense of purpose that golf can offer, the sport is also helpful for wounded veterans and amputees as physical therapy to improve balance. The benefit of sports like golf proves invaluable to those with limb injuries. Golf is a great equalizer. Golf is not off-limits to amputees.

Golf has many rehabilitative benefits to wounded warriors.
Golf has many rehabilitative benefits for wounded warriors.

 

“After being injured, I looked for purpose. You have a life ahead of you, you have a new purpose that you have to fulfill. You have a family that still loves you. You need to keep moving. Tee It Up for the Troops has facilitated a fantastic environment.” -Tee It up for the Troops Warrior

Golf for Veterans with Health Conditions

Agent Orange was an herbicide that the U.S. Military used during the Vietnam War. Exposure to Agent Orange is associated with several medical conditions. Golf can help veterans stay active and improve their balance and coordination when they face adverse health problems. The game of golf can help veterans manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Vietnam Veteran and Ret. Colonel Terry Branham has witnessed these medical conditions in himself and his battle buddies. That is why he stays active with golf and other activities to keep his legs strong. “Motion is the lotion! Strong legs from moving remain a vet’s best investment,” said Branham.

Ret. Colonel Terry Branham with other golf mates. A Vietnam Veteran, Branham keeps active by golfing and leading an active lifestyle.
Ret. Colonel Terry Branham with other golf mates. A Vietnam Veteran, Branham keeps active by golfing and leading an active lifestyle.

 

Golf and movement can help issues such as arthritis and back pain, as well as, overcoming major hurdles such as the loss of a limb or the loss of motor functions from a stroke. Golf can help cope with these symptoms by providing a sense of accomplishment, social interaction, and fresh air.

Golf Keeps Veterans Fit

The walking and swinging of a club helps veterans to move all the right muscles and improve balance and coordination. As veterans play golf, they are sure to improve physical fitness just like a person who hits the gym daily or plays other sports. You don’t have to run or jump to play golf, and there is very little twisting or turning involved. This makes it an excellent choice for veterans with joint pain or other mobility issues. Being active can also help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic conditions.

Keep Moving With Tee It Up for the Troops

Motion has always been and will always be, the lotion for a healthy, active life. And golf is a perfect way for veterans to get some exercise while enjoying the great outdoors. The quietness of the course calms the mind and being with other veterans is all part of the value and benefit of golf as a complementary therapy for physically or emotionally affected veterans.

Join One of Our Events Today!

Tee It Up for the Troops hosts golf events across the country and we invite you to help support us so warriors can play in our events. Funds raised from our events also provide comprehensive assistance for veterans in all areas of their life. 

Learn how to join an event: Local Military Charity Events | Tee It Up for the Troops

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This story is dedicated to Retired Colonel Terry Branham who served on the Tee It Up for the Troops Board of Directors admirably for 5 1/2 years. “Motion is the Lotion” are not only the words of Col. Branham but a lifestyle he chooses to live daily by staying active. He golfs in our events, exercises daily in his workout room in the winter and when the weather is nice, he takes his dog, Annie, on morning and evening walks. He has been actively involved in numerous organizations, including a team that builds disability ramps for disabled veterans and their families across the Twin Cities area.

Vietnam Veteran and Ret. Colonel Terry Branham.
Vietnam Veteran and Ret. Colonel Terry Branham.

 

Notre Dame Basketball Star Danielle Green: Sports Gives the Confidence to Respond to Life’s Challenges

Extraordinary Woman, Notre Dame Alumnus, and Tee It Up for the Troops Combat Veteran

Extraordinary Woman, Notre Dame Alumnus, and Tee It Up for the Troops Combat Veteran

Danielle received the 2015 Pat Tillman Award for Service,an ESPY Award (Excellence in Sports Performance).

What’s important to note about Danielle Green is that she knew exactly what she wanted early on. Her childhood dreams included basketball, Notre Dame, and the military.

Born in 1977 and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Danielle grew up in a poor environment. Her mother was a single mother who struggled with substance abuse, her father was absent, and she relied on her grandmother, coaches, and school personnel for guidance. Playing basketball at different gyms and outdoor locations as an 8-year-old young girl was a way out.

Determination and Childhood Dreams

Green’s journey is a true testament to what can happen when you decide to train, commit, sacrifice, and really work at something so you know how to respond when under pressure.  Whether it be basketball, the military, recovering from injury, or now golf, Green says “you have to keep working at it, practice because you don’t always know what’s going to come your way, so you have to be ready.”

That determination and training ethic earned her a scholarship to play basketball at Notre Dame. Standout Danielle Green was a left-handed guard for Notre Dame from 1995 to 2000 and during that time was the 17th all-time high scorer for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Danielle was coached and mentored by Notre Dame’s Hall of Fame Muffet McGraw.

Basketball player, Danielle Green, during her Notre Dame Senior Night in 2000.
Basketball player, Danielle Green, during her Notre Dame Senior Night in 2000.

 

After graduation, Green moved back to Chicago and began a teaching and coaching career where she met her husband, Willie Byrd, a high school basketball coach.  In 2003, Danielle felt the need to serve her country, despite war looming, and fulfilling that last childhood dream. So she joined the United States Army in 2003. She enlisted as an E-4 with the Military Police. In 2004, she was deployed to Iraq.

A New Chapter in her Story

Atop a police station she had been helping to guard in Iraq, Green remembers something whizzing by her and landing two stories below her almost hitting the parked Humvees. The next rocket hit Green; severely wounding her. “When the rocket hit me, I became angry because I was not ready to die. I thought I had so much more to give and I wanted a child, said Green. “I said a prayer, I felt reassurance and hope, and a burst of energy. Then my comrades came and performed their duties amicably.  While in the Green Zone, Danielle was awarded the Purple Heart and she was also told that her hand with her wedding rings was found on several inches of sand.

Soon after the attack, she was transferred to a hospital in Germany for stabilization. Danielle’s left arm was blown off during the rocket attack. A natural left-hander, she now had only her right hand to use. She had suffered other injuries as well, and a lengthy rehab to face.  It was a challenging time. “I had to try and figure out how to redo everything I had done left-handed. But you have to learn to adapt, learn to adjust to your environment. Finding purpose and passion in life was important to Green.  You have to keep working by putting one foot in front of the other,” said Green. 

Building Confidence Through Sports

Sports are so much more than just a game. Sports played a significant role in Danielle’s rehabilitation. Really pushing yourself to compete means finding confidence. And being confident brings a feeling of being fully alive. “I first played golf in college with two of my basketball coaches and a teammate,” said Green.  “However, I really started to take a liking to golf while I was at Walter Reed recovering from my wounds. Once I returned home in 2005, my husband and I started taking lessons and attending events to meet other warriors and individuals.”

Danielle receiving golf instruction at a Tee It Up for the Troops REUNION Event.
Danielle received golf instruction at a Tee It Up for the Troops REUNION Event.

 

The transition to learning golf was seamless for Green. “The two sports that I played right-handed when being naturally left-handed, were golf and softball. I really enjoy these two sports now along with tennis with my 7-year-old son Daniel.”  Daniel is the blessing that she prayed for in Iraq 10 years earlier. The biggest adjustment was finding the right adaptive equipment to allow her to play comfortably.

The Benefits of REUNION

Danielle has attended Tee It Up for the Troops REUNION (a program that reunites combat veterans and uses golf as a basis for rehabilitation) for several years. “The very first REUNION that I attended followed the passing of my husband, Willie, in 2011,” Green said. “The event took my mind off my recent loss and allowed me to connect with warriors who I had not seen since 2005 at Walter Reed Hospital. The next REUNION events I attended were in 2014 and 2018, in hopes of staying connected with other veterans, meeting old and new friends, meeting other female veterans, networking, and improving my game. REUNION is one of the few opportunities that I have to be with a community of veterans with common experiences.”

Golfing and Feeling “Alive”

“My prosthetic arm gives me the ability to function as an able-bodied person just like most individuals on the course,” Green said. “I do not think about what I lost; I think about competing to the best of my ability. The ability to engage and find comfort with others on the course is what makes me feel alive.”

Tee It Up for the Troops Combat Veteran, Danielle Green ready to play some golf!
Tee It Up for the Troops Combat Veteran, Danielle Green, ready to play some golf!

 

The sport of golf means a lot to Green. “The game of golf gives me hope. The game of golf reminds me of how precious life can be.  The game of golf allows me to cultivate new relationships and develop a deeper appreciation for life as I reflect on my near-death experience in 2004,” Green explained.

“When individuals experience catastrophic injuries like myself, it is easy to hide from society.  The game of golf allows me to showcase my talent despite the loss of a limb.  In addition, I can engage with other warriors and meet different people from all walks of life,” added Green.  “It is delightful to hear where people are from and why they are giving.”

Why Get Involved with Tee It Up for the Troops?

Danielle feels it’s important for people to get involved to fill in the gaps where there are immediate financial needs. “You want to be a part of an organization that is transparent and that has a core group of solid individuals running the program,” Green said. “All of us are meant to serve others in some capacity… this is what makes the world go around. All of us cannot serve in the military so getting involved with Tee It Up for the Troops can help people fill that void in their life of service or give back to a worthy cause. It shows veterans and their family members that people truly care about their service and sacrifice.”

If you would like to serve others or give back and change the lives of veterans like Danielle and their families, donate here or get involved in one of our events here.

A True American Hero

Veteran Danielle Green is a Purple Heart recipient. She also received the 2015 Pat Tillman Award for Service, an ESPY Award (Excellence in Sports Performance). Danielle now lives in Florida with her son, Daniel, and partner Robert Thomma. 

We at Tee It Up for the Troops have much admiration for Veteran Danielle Green and her awe-inspiring journey that we can all learn from.

Bravery and the Bond of Combat Buddies and Duct Tape

His last deployment to Afghanistan changed his life forever.  Here is the story of Staff Sergeant Nick Bradley and the bond of combat buddies.

The unthinkable happened for 25-year-old United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Nick Bradley on Sunday, Aug. 3, 2008. As Bradley’s Land Cruiser reached a bridge, it was blasted by a 20-pound anti-tank mine IED that two Taliban in a nearby village remotely detonated.

Bradley stayed in the truck through the explosion. Once the truck came to rest, the door was blown off, and an unconscious Bradley fell out of the vehicle face-first into a 9-foot culvert. He woke up in that ditch minutes later, unable to see, unable to move, and unable to reach his radio.

“I was helpless. I didn’t know what was going on, or if I was going to make it out of there,” Bradley said.

Bradley was part of the 96th Security Forces Squadron, a personal security detail for officers, out of Camp Eggers in Kabul, Afghanistan. After the explosion, the convoy that had been traveling together followed protocol and had to evacuate with the VIP they were protecting.

About 10 minutes later, Technical Sergeant Garrett Knight, who also was in the Security Forces Squadron, made his way back to Bradley who lay badly wounded.

The way the vehicle looked and with silence coming from Bradley’s radio, Knight was losing hope as to what he may find. “Once we actually made our way back and found Nick in the ditch, it was such a relief to see him alive,” said Knight. “ In any other situation besides war, I may have just broke down in relief.  Seeing how it was war, there was no time to get emotional.”

“I heard this guy come up to me in the ditch,” Bradley said. “I asked him how I looked…like that was important ya know. To me, I looked great. And then he duct-taped my nose back on my face. I tell ya what, you don’t have real friends unless they duct-tape your nose back on your face!”

Knight continued working to patch Bradley up and got him into a Medivac within an hour.

“Garrett stayed with me as they flew me to a base in Afghanistan where I was put in a nine-day medically induced coma and underwent 11 operations just to get me ready for transport,” said Bradley. “They flew me from there to Landstuhl, Germany for another surgery. Garrett stayed with me all the way to Germany, then a general wouldn’t let him fly any further. He had to turn around and go back to Afghanistan.” Bradley was finally flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

 

Challenges Faced

Bradley quickly learned how large a challenge he faced.

The duct-taped nose was just a small part of his challenges. Doctors told him the explosion caused complete facial fractures. Bradley has 20 screws and 14 plates in his face, along with shrapnel in his face and eye. Every bone in his right arm was shattered, requiring 52 screws. His right hand was partially amputated, and he lost his left index finger. He had reconstructive surgery for a fractured hip and crushed knee, requiring more screws, and has a hole in his right shin. His right foot was crushed, which caused severe nerve damage, leaving that foot partially paralyzed.

More shattering than his injuries was learning that one of his combat buddies, Army National Guard Sgt. Jaime “Gonzo” Gonzalez, Jr., who was also riding in the same Land Cruiser, was killed in the explosion.

“He made the ultimate sacrifice that day,” said Bradley. “I figure I couldn’t complain because [Gonzalez] would have given anything to be going through what I was going through.” Since 2008, Bradley has released balloons to honor his fallen comrade, Gonzo, on August 3, the day he celebrates his own “Alive Day.”

The Road to Recovery

Laying in a military hospital bed he had plenty of time to think. “I started thinking about my family, how long it would take me to get out of the hospital, how long it would take me to walk, how long it would take me to play golf,” said Bradley. Golf was a sport that he enjoyed and first took up a few years earlier. In the hospital, he waited until doctors weren’t looking — and then he would stand up and practice on a makeshift putting green. “I needed to do it,” Bradley said. “It gave me something to look forward to every day.”

Golf has given him a release, helping him rebuild his muscles and body after the bombing and serving as a temporary escape from the divorce he went through after returning home.

When he was released from the hospital, his combat buddy Knight picked him up and continued to take care of his friend. Bradley moved in with Knight, who cooked his meals and took him to medical appointments and therapy. “But greater than that, he treated me like I was normal,” said Bradley. “I needed a sense of normalcy.” As the months went by, Bradley moved his game — and his recovery — out to the golf course.

Staff Sgt. Nick Bradley received both the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Medal from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D. C. in 2008.
Staff Sgt. Nick Bradley received both the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Medal from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D. C. in 2008.

 

REUNION With Tee It Up for the Troops

This year in January, Bradley and Knight reunited at the Tee It Up for the Troops REUNION event in Florida.

REUNION is a special program reuniting combat veterans who were separated due to battlefield situations and helps with healing the invisible wounds of war. REUNION uses golf as a basis for a rehabilitative three-day event at the Reunion Resort and Golf Club in Kissimmee, Florida. Included in the program are separate workshops for warriors and their caregivers to discuss struggles and share tactics to help them survive and thrive at home.

“Thanks to Tee it Up for the Troops and REUNION, Nick and I were able to reconnect in a way we both needed,” said Knight. “Most people will never understand the unbreakable bond war and tragic events create and because of that bond, face-to-face human interaction is needed. You would think trying to get two of the very best friends in the whole wide world together in one place would be easy, but in fact, it’s not.”  Being able to spend a week at REUNION with Nick filled my cup and recharged my battery and for that, I’m ever grateful.”

Combat buddies Knight and Bradley hit the golf course at REUNION.
Combat buddies Knight and Bradley hit the golf course at REUNION.

 

“Every year we try to get together but life sometimes takes over—school, kids, work careers—and it doesn’t always happen,” said Bradley. “REUNION is so important to many combat buddies like me and Garret. Without this event, we probably wouldn’t even hang out, crack jokes, reminisce, and continue to grow that relationship.”

“I heard the best quote today from a warrior while golfing and just having a good time,” Bradley added. “It didn’t matter what his score was or how he was playing, but he said, ‘This is probably the most fun I’ll have all year and it’s only January 16th.’ If that does not show the impact of REUNION, I don’t know what would.”

“To the sponsors and Tee It Up for the Troops team, I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Bradley said. “This is so important what you guys do each and every year at REUNION.”

Bradley, Knight, and fellow warriors enjoying their golf round at REUNION.

 

Getting Veterans Back on Course!

You can help us reunite combat veterans like Nick and Garrett. We rely on corporate REUNION sponsors and golfers to help these warriors transition from the battlefront to the homefront. This includes help for the hidden wounds of war like anxiety, depression, isolation, and suicide.

Learn more about how you or your company can get involved with sponsorship for this program:   Tee It Up for the Troops REUNION

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More Background on These Combat Buddies

Staff Sergeant Bradley

Staff Sergeant Bradley flew more than 200 drone surveillance missions for troops in the Middle East during his deployments. Bradley, who has received many awards, including the Purple Heart and Airman of the Year, medically retired from active duty in May 2009. He’s a talented golfer who likes to play as much as he can. He’s played in Tee It Up for the Troops events and the Warrior Open hosted by former President George W. Bush.

Bradley is still serving in a different capacity, Healthcare. For the past three years, he has been providing patients with their home care needs within the Dallas Fort Worth area. Bradley is married to Lindsey, and they have three daughters together.

Senior Master Sergeant Garrett Knight

With a distinguished 25-year military career, Senior Master Sergeant Garrett Knight is still on active duty. He is currently the Operations Superintendent for the 94th Security Forces Squadron in Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. In this role, he leads, develops, and trains 60 Active Guard/Reserve and Civilian Defenders conducting the unit’s home station mission. Additionally, he oversees all aspects of the day-to-day law and order and resources protection mission for 5,500 assigned total force Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines.

Knight grew up in Fort Walton Beach, FL, and enlisted in the Air Force in 1997. He has served in several operations including Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. SMSgt Knight’s many awards and decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, and the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

Hero Miles Supports REUNION

In 2012, Tee It Up for the Troops began a special program reuniting service members who had lost contact with one another to help with healing the invisible wounds of war. The program, REUNION, uses golf and workshops as a basis for a rehabilitative three-day event based at the Reunion Resort and Golf Club in Kissimmee, FL. When the REUNION program takes place annually, combat service members, veterans, and caregivers need flights to attend.

Fisher House Foundation’s Hero Miles Program makes it possible for service members and their caregivers to attend this event each year.

Since the program began, Hero Miles has provided 416 airline tickets, saving $436,017 for participants.

“We believe that we must all come together and bring our strengths to help these men, women, and their loved ones who are struggling,” said Fisher House Foundation Chairman and CEO Ken Fisher. “Different organizations have their own focus, but when we come together, we can make an even bigger difference.”

Ken Fisher, Chairman & CEO, Fisher House Foundation, Inc. is a business leader and philanthropist with a passion for serving those who have served our country.
Ken Fisher, Chairman & CEO, Fisher House Foundation, Inc. is a business leader and philanthropist with a passion for serving those who have served our country.

 

Fisher House Foundation’s Hero Miles program uses donated frequent flyer miles to purchase tickets bringing military and veteran families to their injured or ill loved ones while they are receiving treatment. Hotels for Heroes uses donated hotel loyalty points to provide a hotel room when there is not a Fisher House nearby. Both Hero programs also support other nonprofits that are helping military and veteran families through their healing journey.

Many of the attendees of REUNION are Purple Heart recipients who have been injured while overseas. A considerable number have traumatic brain injuries or suffer from post-traumatic stress or both. Nearly all still struggle with what they have been through.

“What keeps us coming back is the strong desire to be around my military brothers and sisters. Combat creates such a strong bond and sharing their camaraderie is such an important need in my life,” said Navy veteran Mark Little, who attended once before. “The military was my life for 30 years and I have so much to be thankful for. I’m positive that I couldn’t have made it through without them covering my back. I don’t know where I would have ended up without their support and the military shaping my life.”

Mark Little, left, golfing with some of his military brothers at REUNION 2022.
Mark Little, left, golfing with some of his military brothers at REUNION 2022.

 

“Tee It Up for the Troops has been extremely blessed to have the support of the Hero Miles program throughout all ten years of our REUNION outreach program,” said Tim Wegscheid, President and Executive Director. “The REUNION program reunites combat veterans who were separated due to battlefield situations. We bring these battle buddies back together from locations across the U.S.A. Due to the important role of Hero Miles in providing flights to these deserving heroes, it allows us to allocate more funding toward additional reunions, including their caregivers, and providing enhanced programming. The positive ripple effect of the Hero Miles support is endless, and we are extremely grateful.”

Tim Wegscheid, President and Executive Director, for Tee It Up for the Troops, speaking at REUNION.
Tim Wegscheid, President and Executive Director, Tee It Up for the Troops, speaking at REUNION.

 

Veterans from Vietnam to the most recent conflicts attended REUNION with their spouses. Throughout the weekend, there were events for both veterans and their caregivers. Along with golf, there were discussion sessions and events. Caregivers participated in a yoga workshop and other activities. Participants from both groups worked with the nonprofit CreatiVets to write songs about their experiences.

“The caregiver sessions mean so much to me because I am with other women who get it. These women have all been through a lot themselves, but they are all always so welcoming and strong,” said Jessica Lacy, who attended with her husband, Army veteran Mike. “It never feels awkward being in a room full of ladies, most of whom you’ve never met — it feels more like family. There is an unspoken bond, and it’s always great to break bread and share stories. There are always plenty of tears and laughter, but my heart is always full when I leave a REUNION weekend.”

Army veteran Mike Lacy and his wife, Jessica, flying to REUNION with HERO Miles.
Army veteran Mike Lacy and his wife, Jessica, flying to REUNION with HERO Miles.

 

For the ten-year reunion, many of the attendees from previous years were invited back. Mike Lacy, who has attended REUNION four times, explained why returning is important.

“What keeps bringing us back is the environment created by Tee it Up for the Troops,” explained Mike. “Their hearts for veterans and what golf can do to rehabilitate a veteran in need both mentally and physically is immeasurable. We love to be a part of that. It’s a safe space where people understand the challenges that this life has presented, and truthfully, it’s a great reminder and recharge that anything can be overcome, and you are not alone.”

Fisher House Foundation has been a tremendous partner to Tee It  Up for the Troops and does amazing work to help veterans and their caregivers in the most challenging of times. On behalf of all of us at Tee It Up for the Troops and the military veterans themselves, we’d like to give a heartfelt thank you to the Fisher House Foundation which is responsible for the Hero Miles and Hotels for Heroes programs.

If you would like to get involved in our program that reunites combat warriors and changes lives for veterans and their families, check out REUNION.

 

World War II Veteran and Tee It Up for the Troops Warrior Celebrates 100th Birthday

Ernie Lamson, a World War II Veteran and a Tee It Up for the Troops warrior, celebrated a significant milestone of turning 100 years on March 28, 2022. Ernie is one of a small fraction of heroes still alive who served during World War II and is a part of the Greatest Generation. 

A World War II Veteran’s Love of Golf 

At 97, Ernie played in the 2019 Tee It Up for the Troops Mendakota Country Club Golf Event in Minnesota, riding in a cart and bringing his big personality to everyone he met on the course. Always seen on the course in his 82nd Airborne jersey and cap, Ernie has been to many of Tee It Up for the Troops events over the years, including the Reunion event in Florida in 2014.

“I really love going to the Tee It Up for the Troops events because I run into a lot of old friends and meet new friends,” said Lamson.  “Everyone is wonderful and the outings are real enjoyable. Not too long ago, I could play pretty good golf too!”

Ernie Lamson, a Tee It Up for the Troops World War ll Warrior.
Ernie Lamson, a Tee It Up for the Troops World War ll Warrior.

 

When Ernie was playing 18 holes of golf at least twice a week with his golf buddies several years ago, he was scoring in the high 70s and low 80s.  “I shot a 93 at age 93,” he proudly added. Ernie was a lifelong member at Como Golf Course near his home in St. Paul, Minnesota. “Golf has been a great activity for me. I find satisfaction in being able to get a good score.  I never had a hole in one in all those years, but I’ve come awfully close.”

“For years I walked and carried my clubs,” Ernie recalls. “I can remember going up to a hole and two young kids were there on a golf cart. They asked me how old I was, and I told them I’m 70 years old. They asked why I wasn’t riding in a cart.  I said because I am perfectly healthy and fine walking and carrying…and those golf carts cost extra money.”

Ernie has taken care of his body claiming he has never smoked a cigarette or drank, quite a feat for a soldier in World War II. He still fits into his original 1942 Airborne jump jacket. Along with golfing just a few years ago, Ernie also enjoyed playing duplicate bridge and doing pushups every morning.

Life During The War

Born on March 28, 1922, and growing up in the St. Paul area, after high school, Ernie enlisted in the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division. He completed jump school in 1943 but badly broke his femur during a jump that August. To add to his injury, a handle of the stretcher he was on broke and punctured one of his lungs and had to spend seven months in the hospital. Due to his injury, he missed D-Day, a fact he has bittersweet thoughts about, “the injury probably saved my life.” He was honored and written up in local French newspapers during the 70th anniversary D-Day celebrations in Normandy in 2014.

Life After The War

“I hooked up with the 508 at a reunion in Omaha, Nebraska in 1984 and served as the president and treasurer for several years – I was also chairman for several reunions and made another parachute jump on my 90th birthday,” Ernie said. After the war, Ernie became an accountant and worked with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. He attributes playing weekly golf and the Tee It Up for the Troops events, along with his other healthy living, for keeping him fit, healthy, and socially connected.

Lamson lost his wife of 65 years, Charlene, 12 years ago. He would lose his only son, Kevin, 51, who suffered a heart attack, and a grandson, Aaron Lamson, 35, to a surfing accident in Hawaii that same year. His daughter, Gail, died of heart failure in 2018 at age 62.

Today, Ernie lives with his only immediate family member and daughter, Renee, in his native St. Paul. Renee helps care for Ernie and describes his health as “good …he is not on any medications …has a great appetite… has a little trouble walking and hearing when his hearing aids are giving him problems.” During the day, Ernie still uses his computer for e-mail and card games. He also checks in on his Facebook page.

Due to an all-expenses-paid cruise hosted by the National World War II Museum, Ernie and Renee traveled together to Normandy in 2019 for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. They both were able to experience the major historical sites and sounds of the war that Ernie signed up for and that changed the world.

“The cruise to Normandy and traveling with my dad for the 75th anniversary was very special,” said Renee. “It was an honor to be there with him and about 500 other veterans who each had a story about their involvement in the war. I learned so much that I did not know during that trip. World War II Veterans have a lifetime of knowledge to share.”

Everyone loves seeing Earnie on the golf course!
Everyone loves seeing Ernie on the golf course!

Celebrating A Tee It Up for the Troops Hero

The World War II Veteran celebrated his milestone 100th birthday Sunday, March 27 surrounded by family and friends at Gabe’s by the Park Restaurant in St. Paul. Ernie had to undergo medical treatment just two days before the party and the event almost did not happen. But, showing his grit, and with the approval of his doctor, Ernie was able to make it to his celebration. See the special news story about this World War II and Tee It Up for the Troop’s Veteran on Fox 9 Twin Cities.

Ernie Lamson is that rare and precious American- a World War II Veteran and a member of the Greatest Generation. We appreciate his support and service and all the joy he has brought to our many Tee It Up for the Troops events. Happy 100th Birthday Ernie!