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

—————————————————————————————–

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

_________________________________________________________________

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!

Imperial Headwear Announced as a National Sponsor

We are thrilled to announce that Imperial, voted the #1 headwear brand for all public, private and resort golf facilities by the Association of Golf Merchandisers (AGM), has become a national sponsor for Tee It Up for the Troops.

“Imperial is very proud of its partnership with Tee it Up for the Troops,” said David Shaffer, Senior Vice President of Sales at Imperial. “Doing our part to honor, remember, and support all those who serve(d) in the Armed Forces is something that is very important to us.”

Tee It Up for the Troops is a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting programs that deliver critical services to help veterans from all eras heal and transition from the battlefront to the home front. 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 has hosted over 600 golf events in more than 40 states over the last 17 years, allowing the non-profit organization to donate $12.8 million to military service organizations that provide critically needed services to combat veterans and their families. Our dedicated national sponsors help us achieve this goal.

In addition to sponsoring event headwear, Imperial commits to quarterly donation disbursements to Tee It Up for the Troops with a portion of the proceeds from a branded collection of headwear benefiting the non-profit organization. 

Imperial is a national sponsor of Tee It Up for the Troops, providing headwear for our events and other financial support.
Imperial is a national sponsor of Tee It Up for the Troops, providing headwear for our events and other financial support.

 

“Tee It Up for the Troops is honored to partner with Imperial, a brand with inspiration for trending and customized golf hats,” says Tim Wegscheid, President and Executive Director of Tee It Up for the Troops. “Imperial consistently ‘steps up to the tee’ and stands by our side as we collaborate in support of America’s veterans and military families. Thanks to Imperial for teaming up with us as a national sponsor to provide hats and visors to our many golf event sponsors and supporters across the country!”

Shop Imperial's "Give Back" Collection of Tee It Up for the Troops hats and part of your purchase will help veterans!
Discover the “Give Back” collection of Imperial Tee It Up for troops hats and part of your purchase will help veterans!

 

Shop for Tee It Up for the Troops headwear HERE and a portion of all proceeds will go to Tee It Up for the Troops and their pursuit of helping veterans heal!

About Tee It Up for the Troops

Tee It Up for the Troops, Inc, is a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves U.S. military veterans and their families.  Established in 2005, Tee It Up for the Troops has hosted over 600 events in over 40 states and has donated $12.8 million to partnering organizations serving veterans across the country.  In addition, through their REUNION initiative, Tee It Up for the Troops has reunited more than 300 combat altered veterans who were separated due to battlefield injuries or changes in rehabilitation status.  For more information visit: Tee It Up for the Troops.

About Imperial Headwear

Founded in 1916, Imperial Headwear is the leading manufacturer of premium quality headwear, apparel, and accessories for the golf market. Imperial’s products can be found at 97 of the Top 100 and over 70% of the Top 400 golf courses in the United States. Imperial is committed to style, functionality, and perfection in fit and comfort. It is this commitment that has allowed the creation of a wide variety of headwear and apparel with quality that is second to none. Renowned for its superior customer service and art customization capabilities, Imperial offers its products using the most innovative fabrics and designs, as well as logo decoration and embellishment technologies. For more information, visit:  Imperial.

Media Contacts:

Theresa Johnson 
Tee It Up for the Troops 
Communications Specialist
theresa@teeitupforthetroops.org. 

Tori Cole 
Imperial Sports
Marketing Manager
Tcole@Imperialsports.com

 

 

                                                                                  

Congressional Medal of Honor Society Golf Event will take place on May 2, 2022

Tee It Up for the Troops is proud to announce its inaugural golf event on the Outlaw Course at the Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale,  benefiting both Tee It Up for the Troops and the  Congressional Medal of Honor Society and its Foundation. The event will take place on May 2, 2022.  This event will honor all U.S. Military service members and support all those who have been wounded and injured in the defense of our nation’s freedoms.

We are extremely honored that five Medal of Honor recipients will be on-site for this event! Each foursome in this event will be joined by a Medal of Honor recipient or a local combat-wounded veteran.

“Desert Mountain is privileged to host this outstanding event,” said John Lyberger, PGA Director of Golf. “Our members deeply appreciate the tremendous sacrifice our veterans have made for our country and feel extremely fortunate to support this cause. We are looking forward to a great day and wonderful event.”

We are pleased to announce that this inaugural event has now SOLD OUT in less than 30 days!  However, if you would still like to help improve the lives of those who selflessly served to protect our liberties, please click HERE.  

The Society’s membership is comprised of those who wear the Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest military award for valor. Through the Society's Outreach, Education and History initiatives, the Medal of Honor Recipients continue their service across the nation.
The Society’s membership is comprised of those who wear the Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest military award for valor.

More About The Congressional Medal of Honor Society and Foundation

The Society and Foundation rely solely on private philanthropy – gifts from individuals, corporations, and foundations – and receive no government funding. The Foundation is a 4-Star Rated Charity as rated by Charity Navigator.

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society is the only organization chartered by Congress to support Recipients. Although the Medal of Honor traces its origins back to 1861, it wasn’t until 1958 that Congress and President Eisenhower chartered a specific organization to address the work and well-being of Recipients.

 

An Honor to Partner with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society of the United States

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.

Tee It Up for the Troops is proud of a growing partnership with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Our partnership allows us to make an impact across all sectors, military and civilian, ultimately helping bring greater awareness to the issues of active duty and veteran suicide.

About The Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Since its origins in 1891, only 3,511 people have been awarded the medal, and there is currently only 66 living Medal of Honor Recipients.

The Medal of Honor is normally awarded by the President of the United States

About The Congressional Medal of Honor Society 

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society is perhaps the most exclusive organization in our country so it’s an honor to partner with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.  Its small membership knows no boundaries of ethnicity, social, or economic levels. Members range in age from 31 to 97 and live across our country. No amount of money, power, or influence can buy one’s rite of passage into this exclusive circle, and unlike almost any other organization, this group’s members hope that there will be no more inductees.

Additionally, every year, the Society conducts a nationwide search to select five United States citizens and one organization to receive the Citizen Honors Awards to recognize that ordinary people can do extraordinary things– whether they happen in a single instance of bravery or through continued service to others.  The finalists are selected by the recipients themselves.  They believe ordinary people can do extraordinary things – whether it’s a single act of bravery or community service.

Medal of Honor Recipients

Today, Medal of Honor Recipients are meeting in classrooms and boardrooms with veterans and neighbors, to uphold American values of courage, sacrifice, commitment, integrity, citizenship, and patriotism. They are sharing their experiences of valor and resilience to inspire the next generation of heroes: people doing extraordinary things every day in our hometowns. They are honoring and preserving the lessons and legacies of those who have gone before them.

A Partnership To Help Our Nations Veterans

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society relies solely on private philanthropy – gifts from individuals, corporations, and foundations – and receives no government funding. Tee It Up for the Troops was honored to present a grant to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society in 2021 to help them address veterans’ wellness and resiliency.  What an honor to partner with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

“Tee It Up for the Troops has a superb reputation of philanthropy and of helping so many veteran and military nonprofits, especially in this time of uncertainty and competing resources,” explained retired Army Lt. Col. John Falkenbury, executive vice president for the Society, “Many Medal of Honor Recipients have fond memories of taking part in previous events and are now excited to team up with Tee It Up for the Troops.  Two great organizations working to help our fellow veterans and first responders. – it does not get any better”

Veterans of all wars and combat face challenges. However, the more than two million service members in the global war on terrorism waged primarily in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, experience significant and unique challenges resulting from their multiple, frequent deployments.

In a 2019 New York Times article, Carol Giacomo noted, “Suicide rates for active-duty service members and veterans are rising, in part, experts say, because a culture of toughness and self-sufficiency may discourage service members in distress from getting the assistance they need.” With the added challenges resulting from COVID-19 health and safety protocols, resiliency and positive mental health approaches are even more important.

An Honor to Partner with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society

“We are honored and grateful to partner with one of the most prestigious organizations in the United States,” says Tim Wegscheid, President & Executive Director of Tee It Up for the Troops.  “The Congressional Medal of Honor Society and Tee It Up for the Troops share a strong commitment to our nation’s veterans. We look forward to a deepening relationship as both our organizations look for the best ways to support service members, veterans, and their families when they are struggling with invisible wounds of war.”

$12.8 Million In Charitable Donations Reached

As part of the Tee It Up for the Troops mission, we honor, remember, respect, and support our nation’s military veterans and their families. We accomplish this by raising charitable donations and awareness through our golf events across the country which support six core pillars of critical need as identified in the graphic below.

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

 

We are honored to announce over a half-million dollars in grants for our 2021 national grant recipients! Each year, through our golf fundraising platform and the support of over 750 volunteers nationwide, Tee It Up for the Troops awards grants to non-profit organizations that provide services to our warriors and their families in critical areas of need.
 
In 2021, Tee It Up for the Troops granted nearly $1.1 million in total, which launched us over $12.8 million in charitable donations since 2005 to national and local organizations to directly assist combat veterans and their families. Due to these achievements, we are honored to announce over a half-million dollars in grants to our 2021 national grant recipients! Thank you to every single supporter, volunteer, and event leader for making this happen!
 

2021 Grant Partners Announced 

Tee It Up for the Troops is a “Force Multiplier” with a larger impact across the nation by working with many highly recognized veteran support organizations. We are honored to announce our 2021 Non-Profit Partners that received grants from Tee It Up for the Troops!

Family & Caregiver Support

Blue Star Families

Project Sanctuary

Hope for the Warriors

Fallen Heroes Family Camp

Gold Star Teen Adventures

Salute, Inc.

Angels of America’s Fallen

Golf & Sports Rehabilitation

Move United

Salute Military Golf Association

Bunkers in Baghdad

North Texas Warrior Golf Association

 Suicide Prevention

K9’s for Warriors

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society of the United States

Sheep Dog Impact Assistance

Stack Up

Working Dogs for Vets

 Housing & Homelessness

Fisher House Foundation

Purple Heart Homes

 Employment

Combat Veterans to Careers

On Course Foundation

The COMMIT Foundation

PTSD & Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment

CreatiVets

Defenders of Freedom

The Warrior’s Journey

We jointly share a common vision with all 24 of these great non-profit organizations to assist military veterans, active-duty service members, and their families with a broad range of services.

Despite the ongoing challenges over the past two years, Tee It Up for the Troops was blessed to raise more funding in 2021 than we did in 2019, pre-pandemic! This generous support allows us to do even more to help combat veterans get back on course!

Along with our financial support and collaboration with these non-profit partners, we can make a greater impact across our nation for veterans and their families. At Tee It Up for the Troops, we strive to be a high-impact nonprofit that works with and through other veteran support organizations to create more impact than each of us could alone!

Learn more about Tee It Up for the Troops here.

 

 

 

 

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)!