The Nurses Who Served in the Vietnam War

They were called “Angels from Heaven.” They were typical all-American gals who were ready to take on the world in service to their country during the Vietnam War. They were not drafted. They volunteered. They were the nurses who served in the Vietnam War.

Tee It Up for the Troops paid tribute to a group of nurses who served during the Vietnam War at the 2023 Tee It Up for the Troops Event at Mendakota Country Club. In attendance, honored and pictured above left to right were: Mary Lu Ostergern- Brunner, Army Nurse Corps, 71st Evacuation Hospital, Pleiku, 1968-1969; Pam Barrows, Army Nurse Corps, 71st Evacuation Hospital, Pleiku, 1966-1967; Mary Breed, Army Nurse Corps, 95th Evacuation Hospital, Da Nang, 18th Surgical Hospital, Quang Tri, 1970-1971; Kay Bauer, Navy Nurse Corps, Vietnamese Provincial Hospital, Rach Gia, 1966-1967; Jeanne Mahaffey, Navy Nurse Corps, USS Sanctuary, Vietnam, 1971 – 1974
Lynn Bower, Army Nurse Corps, 24th Evacuation Hospital, Long Binh, Vietnam 1971.    

Nurses Played a Vital Role in the Vietnam War 

This group of nurses played a significant role in that war zone, providing high levels of care under extremely difficult conditions. They also returned home to the same unfriendly reception male veterans famously suffered, and often with the same psychological trauma. Nearly 10,000 women served in Vietnam during the war – 7,000 were nurses. Many were just barely out of nursing school when they were sent overseas.

 

The nurses who served in the Vietnam War are among the least recognized American military veterans. Many films and TV programs about U.S. involvement in Vietnam do not depict a single American nurse. We forget that thousands of women, like this group, also played a vital role in the Vietnam War.

Vietnam Nurses Honored

Members of the Vietnam nurses group honored initially met through a support group at the VA in Minnesota. Now they get together once a year for a potluck lunch and support.

Pam Barrows and Mary Lu Ostergern- Brunner were both in the 71st Evac Hospital at the same time in Pleiku, Vietnam, an area of heavy combat and casualties. Since Mary Lu was in the OR and Pam was in the ICU, they never met or connected while in Vietnam. Once back in Minnesota, they met through the Veteran Home where Mary Lu was a board member and Pam was an Administrator at the Veteran Home in Luverne, MN.

Pam Barrows-Army Nurse Corps

“My best friend from nursing school and I entered the service together and we were supposed to be assigned to the same unit after basic but we weren’t,” said Army nurse Pam Barrows. “We talked to those in charge and said “you promised” we would be assigned together and then they reassigned us both to Ft. Polk which had the reputation for being the armpit of the Army. Hearing that we said we might as well go to Vietnam but had no clue what we were asking for!”

Pam Barrows, Army Nurse, Pleiku, Vietnam.
Pam Barrows, Army Nurse, Pleiku, Vietnam.

 

Nurses in Vietnam did whatever was asked of them. They often worked round the clock in massive casualty situations, directing triage, assisting with emergency tracheotomies and amputations, inserting tubes to assist surgeons, and removing damaged tissue and shrapnel from wounds. Pam said they were called “Pluckers” because they plucked out shrapnel from wounded soldiers.

“Our shifts were 12 hours, 6 days a week and our incoming came by helicopter, said Pam who worked in the Surgical ICU at the 71st Evacuation Hospital in Pleiku, Vietnam. “It would be called a ‘PUSH’ and the wounded were triaged in the ER. Often when working day shifts, we might have to crawl to safety if under a rocket attack.”

Pam said there was a high mental stress side of military nursing. “We never knew what was happening outside of our compound. We would hear groundfire close by when working nights and during blackouts. I worried about my fiancé who was a Company Commander of a Mechanized Infantry Unit with the 4th Division on the other side of Pleiku. I worried about rats coming into our ‘hootch’ or living quarters and rocket attacks.”

Mary Breed-Army Nurse Corps

“My brother was wounded in Vietnam and my friend from church, as well as my girlfriend’s brother, were both killed in Vietnam,” said Mary Breed. “That is why I volunteered as a nurse to serve in the Army. I graduated from nursing school at the Swedish Hospital in Minneapolis in 1969 and arrived in Bien Hoa, Vietnam, on September 5, 1970.” She worked as an OR nurse at the 95th Evac Hospital in DaNang and the 18th Surgical Hospital in Quang Tri.

 

“You can never prepare for war. You do not understand a war until you are there and in it,” Mary described. “I still cry when I think of Vietnam and certain instances. Everybody that goes to war goes through PTSD because war is just not normal.”

What was not normal was Mary’s 24th birthday in Vietnam. “I was cutting a birthday cake the cook had made when we heard a radio call that Hill 950, west of Quang Tri Provence, was getting run over with mortars,” Mary recalled. “Our hospital sent two “Dust Offs” or Medevac helicopters. The fighting was intense and they could only get in with one helicopter that only evacuated one of three Americans. One soldier was later deemed missing in action and the other a POW. Back at the hospital, we awaited the chopper to return, which was tenuous because the chopper was being shot at and had to make an emergency landing at Khe Sahn. It turned out to be a good birthday because our two crews made it home safe.”

Kay Bauer-Navy Nurse Corps

Kay Bauer grew up in St. Paul with thirteen brothers and sisters. Kay was a U.S. Navy Nurse for 35 years. She was one of two women in a forward surgical team of 7 people who worked in a provincial hospital in South Vietnam in 1966. “The hospital had no running water, no electricity and we had a generator in the operating room,” said Bauer in an interview. Even the walk to work from her quarters became dangerous. At one point she witnessed a U.S. helicopter getting shot down with bullets coming perilously close. “The bullets went past, whoosh, whoosh. I will move a little bit faster here,” Kay said.

Kay likes to remember the good times like christening a boat in a nearby harbor or immunizing local children. “The other things are just too hard,” she said.

Shortly after returning home, Kay received an invitation to lunch at the White House where she was honored by President Johnson and he signed legislation allowing women to reach the ranks of General or Admiral.

Kay Bauer, Navy Nurse, being honored by President Johnson in the White House.

 

Kay retired as a Captain in the Navy Nurse Corps and still keeps in touch with the “awesome” women who served. 

Watch an interview with Kay Bauuer that was part of Veteran Day news coverage from North Metro TV in Blaine, MN.  Kay’s story begins at the .48-second mark in the segment.

Many forget that thousands of women also played a central role in the Vietnam War story. Tee It Up for the Troops was honored to recognize the Vietnam nurses and extends a huge thank you to all nurses and other females that served during the Vietnam War. God bless the Angels from Heaven! 

The Unvarnished Truth Helps Heal at Veteran Reunions

After serving in the military, many veterans find it difficult to transition back to civilian life. They may feel isolated and disconnected from the civilian population, as they may have experienced traumatic events or formed close bonds with fellow servicemen and women while on active duty. Thus, veteran reunions or small group interactions are a critical part of healing.

The Bonds of Combat

The bonds of combat and brotherhood are forever. As many combat veterans will tell you, you may not have a blood brother or sister, but you can call on a military friend in any situation and they will be there to help. That’s what five Marine veterans, with shared hardships, found out recently when they were brought together through a reunion held at Operation Patriot Forward Operating Base (OPFOB).

Jeffrey Monssen served 30 years of active duty in the United States Marine Corps and retired as a Sergeant Major. His deployments include the Western Pacific, 2 deployments in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Somalia in support of Operation Restore Hope, Kuwait, 2 deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Afghanistan. A highly decorated Marine, Jeff also conducted multiple anti-drug Joint Task Force operations across the US and South America. 

After 30 years of service, Jeff retired from the Marine Corps in 2018. He continues to serve veterans and their families as a member of the National Board of Directors for Tee It Up for the Troops. While attending the 2022 Tee It Up for the Troops REUNION, veteran reunions that reunite combat veterans with their battle buddies with golf as the backdrop, Jeff had an idea. “Golf is awesome, but some people don’t golf,” Jeff said. “Perhaps we could bring a smaller group of combat veterans together by connecting them through other outdoor activities and the shared sense of military struggles they have in common,” added Jeff.  So, he set out on a mission to do so and investigate the concept.

Connecting Through The Great Outdoors  

That’s when Jeff learned about Operation Patriots FOB (Forward Operating Base.) Operation Patriots FOB (OPFOB) is a non-profit, operating on 268 acres in Ridgeland, South Carolina, with a mission to create and foster positive experiences for veterans by connecting through outdoor and recreational activities. A place where peers can engage in a comfortable and relaxed environment.

OPFOB- a place for veterans come together, relax and have a good time with their brothers and sisters.
OPFOB- a place for veterans come together, relax and have a good time with their brothers and sisters.

 

The Tee It Up for the Troops signature REUNION program is held annually at Reunion Resort & Golf Club in Kissimmee, Florida, bringing together about 60 combat veterans and their spouses or caregivers collectively who break up into small group discussions throughout their days together. Small group interaction is highly effective in getting veterans to open up with each other. The event at OPFOB, with just five in attendance, was the first small group reunion organized by Tee It Up for the Troops to further analyze small group interaction of combat veterans.

Monssen pulled together five Marines that had fought with him during some of the deadliest periods of combat in Kuwait, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan to share their incredible experience and unbreakable brotherly love. The friends have known each other for 30 years, but the last time they had been together as a group was 10 years ago at a wedding.  OPFOB was an opportunity for the comrades to get together for several days by themselves to talk, relax, take deep breaths, and feel comfortable with trusted buddies.

On April 19, 2023, the brothers in arms, now scattered in different parts of the country, reunited to reconnect, regroup, and refocus. They arrived to spend four days together at the OPFOB sanctuary and playground. They were now face to face, could wrap arms around one another, and share hardships and happy times too.

 

Combat Marines reunited. Pictured left to right are: Patrick Holland, Ron Rowe, Paul Malley, Jeff Hoffman, and Jeff Monssen.
Combat Marines reunited. Pictured left to right are: Patrick Holland, Ron Rowe, Paul Malley, Jeff Hoffman, and Jeff Monssen.

 

“Bringing veterans to a place they know, like this wonderful outdoor recreational setting, makes us feel confident and comfortable,” said Jeff. “To hunt, fish, shoot, sit by a fire with those who understand you the most…nothing can compare.”

The property is a beautifully rustic and peaceful space. There is a barn, a bunkhouse, a rifle and pistol range, skeet shoot, and stocked ponds. On the property and throughout the local community are opportunities for veterans and first responders to access both fresh and saltwater fishing. Attendees can participate in various hunting sports including pheasant, dove, quail, deer, turkey, and hog.

Jeff’s group spent time on the gun range, drove ATV vehicles, and went hog hunting. Their fishing trip was canceled due to weather, but they made the most out of that day by going to a nearby air show and touring Parris Island, the famous Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina.

The band of brothers visiting a nearby air show.
The band of brothers visited a nearby air show.

 

Yet, it was the fireside chats each evening that brought them the closest and brought about the unvarnished truth. The straightforward truth about how they were shot at and lost battle buddies to combat. And how they have come back, and some parts of their lives are very tough due to all the trauma they experienced and they’re still losing friends to suicide. And how they deal with it in the privacy of their own lives.

The fire pit talks helped this group of Marines to let down their guard and open up.
The fire pit talks helped this group of Marines to let down their guard and open up.

 

Sitting around the campfire provided a sense of security, warmth, and comfort for this group of Marines to let their guard down.  Being around the fire and staring into the dancing flames put them into a relaxed trance where they just started talking, remembering, and healing.  It was also a time to remember those they had lost and a chance to raise a glass and toast to them.

Reuniting Veterans with Small Group Interactions is Healing

Many veterans returning from recent conflicts and prior service eras continue to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other invisible wounds of war. Studies have shown that veterans benefit from small group interaction and support, including social support, purpose and meaning, normalization of symptoms and hope, and therapeutic benefits. Reuniting veterans together in small group interactions is highly effective and offers the opportunity to normalize PTSD symptoms by engaging with other individuals who have experienced similar trauma symptoms.

Conversely, the unvarnished truth is not all doom and gloom. This band of brothers also talked about the happy times in their lives. The days always ended on a high note, and everyone gets recharged. 

Veterans need each other to heal.  They also need a safe, comfortable place for the unvarnished truth to be told to help that healing.  “Reunions and small group interactions for combat veterans positively impact the rest of their lives,” Monssen concluded.

 

There are many opportunities for small group interactions and healing at veteran reunions.
There are many opportunities for small group interactions and healing at veteran reunions.

 

Please Help a Veteran Refocus at a REUNION

There are zero out-of-pocket costs to our participants who attend our reunions thanks to our generous donors. Tee It Up for the Troops is inspired to see how businesses are recognizing the importance of supporting our nation’s veterans.  If you would like to open the door to a fresh new mindset and outlook on life for our country’s veterans, PLEASE Donate Today Here.

 

Patriotic Tribute to American Heroes

The Opening Ceremony is a tradition at Tee It Up for the Troops events that pays tribute to American heroes who have, and continue to, put their lives at risk on the frontline.

Tee It Up for the Troops charity golf events across the USA passionately embrace a patriotic tribute to American heroes.  They are truly a red, white, and blue one-of-a-kind experience that honors those who have defended our nation’s freedom. During July, when we celebrate Independence Day, we wanted to share an impactful video from our Desert Mountain event in Arizona held in May.

Please take 2 minutes to watch this inspirational video. It was produced by our Desert Mountain event organizers and will give you a great feeling as you celebrate and honor the heroes to whom we owe our freedom, peace, and happiness. You will also see key moments that are reflected in all of our patriotic charity events.

Watch Event Video  

The Opening Ceremony is a tradition at Tee It Up for the Troops events that are a patriotic tribute to American heroes who have, and continue to, put their lives at risk on the frontline. This opening ceremony sets a patriotic tone for the day, honors our veterans, and reminds everyone why they are a Tee It Up for the Troops event. It is an opportunity for sponsors, participants, and attendees to celebrate patriotic pride.

Our military is built on traditions, customs, and manners, and so too are our military charity events. With the 657+ events that have been held in over 40 states, each Tee It Up for the Troops opening ceremony is uniquely planned by each local community planning committee. While no two opening ceremonies are ever the same, below are the elements and their meaning that you might find at a typical opening ceremony.

Bagpiper.
Bagpiper.

 

Bagpiper: Many of our ceremonies start with a bagpiper in a traditional Scottish kilt playing and walking up the first fairway toward the attendees. Bagpipes have become associated with U.S. Military memorial services, retirements, or changes of command on account of their connection with Scottish martial history. As early as the 14th century, Scottish warriors used musical instruments—mostly horns—to intimidate their English adversaries.

Invocation by Military Chaplain: An invocation prayer or request for the spiritual presence and blessing of God in the event.

Soloists Ssing the National Anthem and God Bless America: We all know the great tale of our national anthem being written in the wake of the battle with the British in 1814, but did you know God Bless America was written by a Russian immigrant serving in the US Army during the first world war? None other than Irving Berlin—one of the most successful and beloved American songwriters of the 20th century—penned this tune to celebrate the nation he loved dearly.

Presentation of Colors.
Presentation of Colors.

 

• Presentation of Colors by Honor Guard / Color Guard: While we no longer carry colors into battle—during which they served a crucial communication function—the presentation of colors ceremony still plays an important role in keeping national and unit traditions alive.

Moment of Silence: The moment of silence is a time-honored tradition to create a space for reflection and respect—and there’s plenty of that to go around during a Tee It Up for the Troops opening ceremony, a patriotic tribute to American heroes. 

Rifle volley.
Rifle volley.

 

Rifle Volley: Typically done in three volleys by an odd number of members, rifle and other gun salutes are common across the world for honoring service members, royalty, and foreign dignitaries.

Gold-Star Family recognition.
Gold-Star Family recognition.

 

Gold-Star Family Recognition: Gold Star Families are relatives of US military members who have died in battle. A wreath is laid at the ceremony and attending parents, spouses, children, or other family members can carry a rose to lay on the wreath.

Honoring Veterans in attendance.
Honoring Veterans in attendance.

 

Honoring Veterans in Attendance: All attending veterans are recognized and honored for their service during the ceremony.

Taps: Often played at military funerals and other events like wreath-laying ceremonies, this bugle call (it’s not a song) has its origins in the Civil War.

Retire the Colors: Retiring the colors marks the end of the ceremony, during which the color guard retrieves the colors and removes them respectfully.

Some of our events have additional symbols and demonstrations of patriotism that pay tribute to American heroes who continue to put their lives at risk on the frontline.

Static Displays: military vehicles, fire engines with U.S. flags at the entrance or on a hole.

Helicopter or parachute landing to mark the start of the ceremony.

Video Link / Teleconference of deployed units.

Patriotic Motorcycle Association Riders: Some riders participate in the ceremony by holding US Flags around the staging area.

White dove release.
White dove release.

 

White Dove Release: White doves are a widely recognized symbol of peace and hope. A white dove release incorporates this powerful symbol into the ceremony honoring our veterans and what they’ve fought for.

Bald eagle on display.
Bald eagle on display.

 

Bald Eagle on Display: The Bald Eagle became the national emblem of the United States of America in 1782. The fierce beauty and proud independence of this great bird aptly symbolize the strength and freedom of America, that same strength and freedom that is found in the United States Armed Forces.

Military flyover.
Military flyover.

 

Flyover: The first military flyover took place during the 1918 World Series. Today’s military flyovers serve to promote and honor our armed services. The missing man formation is an aerial “salute” performed during a flyover and is typically in memory of a fallen pilot, a well-known military service member, or a veteran.

Opening ceremonies at Tee It Up for the Troops events are one-of-a-kind experiences. Without pretension, with utmost respect and dignity, they’re a chance for your community to honor veterans in your own unique way. Communities across the United States have gathered to support our troops. Get together with your community today to start planning your own event!

Start an Event: We’ll help you set up your own community event to raise funds for our veterans.

Find an Event: Tee It Up for the Troops events happen in almost every state! Find one near you today and participate!

Donate: Donate to support our innovative REUNION program, which pays for combat veterans to reunite with their old comrades to help them overcome the hidden wounds of war.

Thank you to all our golf club partners and event organizers that pay tribute to American heroes by hosting a Tee It Up for the Troops event!

Military Buddies Traumatically Separated During War

Rob and Richard enjoying time together at the 2023 REUNION.

16 Years Later They Were Finally Reunited

 

Ever since he was a little kid, Rob Murafsky, from Metuchen, New Jersey wanted to join the Army as an infantryman and did so right out of high school in 2002. Richard Ranno grew up in New England and was also an Army infantryman who joined a year later in 2003.

Military Buddies, Rob and Richard, served together in Alpha Company, 1st Armored Division in Baumholder, Germany. They would hang out all the time in their off time and travel around Germany when off duty. This duo had many great times together and made lasting memories.

Military Buddies Both Deployed to Iraq

Corporal Team Leader Ranno and Specialist Murafsky were deployed to Iraq in January 2006. Rob was a squad automatic weapon (SAW) gunner and Richard was a rifleman and driver. These military buddies were now on different schedules and with less free time, however, they would still hang out, watch movies, go to the gym, and just talk whenever they could.

In August 2006, Richard was deployed into a known, active, and hostile environment in the city of Hīt, Iraq. His squad was on a three-day SKT (Small Kill Team) mission in Hīt, primarily focused on providing surveillance to a dangerous area where combatants were placing anti-tank mines and organizing other small arms attacks. Richard and a small group of soldiers were positioned inside a second story of a building watching & waiting.

Attacks against the American-led forces in this area of Iraq were at an all-time high, and nothing could be worse than what Richard was about to see and experience.

A Chaotic and Unimaginable Scene

On the third day, while on observation in that second-story building, a patrol of Abrams tanks rolled into the area.  One of the tanks was hit by an anti-tank mine destroying it and killing the driver and severely hurting the crew.

Frenzied Iraqi locals grabbed the severed arm of the dead American soldier and start dancing in the street. Hundreds of locals converged on the area, partying and rejoicing that they had killed US troops.

“We wanted desperately to leave our hiding place and rescue the bodies of the US soldiers who had died,” Richard remembers. “We were told to STAY in POSITION and OBSERVE.” As the crowd grew more restless, they started to recover parts of the Abrams tank. At that time, it was just a vast mob, and we watched from the second story directly above them.”

Eventually, a Quick Reaction Force (QRF), arrived and Rob and other soldiers dismounted the vehicles. They immediately came under fire from all sides.

Corporal Richards’s unit inside the building was still told to hold its position. The crowd dispersed, taking the body parts of the fallen with them. More troops were dispatched to the area as the firefight grew and grew. Richard’s team engaged all enemies they could see from their rooftop and second-story positions.

During these chaotic few moments, a sniper shot and hit Rob in the face.

Richard’s team was finally ordered to break their position and prepare to exit. With the firefight still going on, they grabbed their gear, left the second-story position, and went out to street level where quick approaching tanks picked them up. 

An American Abrams tank.
An American Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Military Buddies Who Fought Together Separated 

“Rob was already gone after we evacuated the area and when we returned to the base, I learned he was medevacked out of Iraq for care,” Richard said. These military buddies never saw each other again while in the service.

The shot Rob took to the face caused him to lose his right eye and produced a lot of damage to nerves and the bones in his face. After being medevacked out of Iraq, he was eventually medically retired from the Army.

“I found out later that Richard was on a rooftop nearby and saw everything happen,” Rob said. “I am grateful that he was there. He saw what happened that day and was able to tell me what he saw and was able to fill in some gaps from that day. However, I am sad that he had to see that. I would not wish that upon anyone.”

PTSD Due to War

“I lost all my Army buddies’ contact information because none of my personal belongings ever made it back to me,” said Rob. “I fell into a deep depression because of PTSD. I was destroying myself by isolating myself from everyone, drinking a lot, and lying to myself that I was OK when I knew I was far from that. After years of trying therapies and medications, I got myself on a better path.”

Richard also suffers from PTSD and guilt from what he saw and experienced in Iraq. “I still carry a lot of guilt from that day,” said Richard. “If we had been authorized to recover the bodies from the beginning, those soldiers would have been brought back to their families, and Rob would never have gotten hurt. It was the most challenging day of my life, and I will never forgive myself for choosing to follow orders over doing what is right.”

Military Buddies Reunited After 16 Long Years

It would be about 16 years after that harrowing day before these battle buddies would get to see each other at Tee It Up for the Troops’ REUNION and spend a good stretch of time together.

REUNION provides the opportunity for combat veterans to have a one-on-one reunion with a battle buddy over the course of several days in a secure and relaxing resort environment. Warriors benefit from a variety of helpful breakout sessions meant to support a healthy lifestyle. They also can spend therapeutic time on the golf course with their battle buddy and other supportive individuals. Spouses and caregivers enjoy time healing together while discussing problem-solving, self-care techniques, resource sharing, and much more.

“Both Richard and I have suffered from PTSD,” Rob said. “Once we reconnected and found each other, I would share things with Richard that had helped me out and he would share what has helped him so we could both try different things. However, talking to each other face to face at REUNION was probably the biggest help for both of us.” 

Warriors Rob and Richard attended REUNION 2023 with their service dogs Monsoon and Jersey.
Warriors Rob and Richard attended REUNION 2023 with their service dogs Monsoon and Jersey.

 

Rob added, “The best thing about REUNION is everything from the first day to the last day. From reconnecting with your battle buddy, being on the golf course- which made me feel calm and at peace being outside- meeting new people, other veterans, and hearing what they have done to help themselves and hearing their stories.”

 Richard says the group chats at REUNION were most beneficial. “Hearing and sharing stories helps us process our experience. Sharing our stories can also help civilians understand what service members go through and promote greater understanding and empathy. And connecting personally with other veterans builds bonds. “

Veteran Richard Ranno participating in a REUNION breakout session and group chat.
Veteran Richard Ranno participating in a REUNION breakout session and group chat.

 

“I can’t tell you how much Rob and I benefited, talked, and healed from the experience at Reunion 2023,” added Richard.

Having the opportunity to reconnect with friends who were there with you in combat is a therapeutic experience for attendees.  Warriors can “open up,” talk, and discuss more easily the things that are bothering them.

Although Rob and Richard still fight the same fight against PTSD, they now have each other and the tools and other support they received at REUNION to help.  

Support Tee It Up for the Troops REUNION

Tee It Up for the Troops relies on corporate REUNION sponsors and golfers to assist us in reuniting combat veterans, like Rob and Richard, and helping them transition from the battlefront to the homefront. This includes help for the hidden wounds of war like anxiety, depression, isolation, and suicide. If you are interested in helping more battle buddies reunite and changing lives, you can learn more, register or donate HERE.  

Veterans Who Want to Attend REUNION

Veterans who are interested in attending REUNION can learn more and apply here.

 

Together, we can make a difference!

 

 

Top-Rated Charity | Help Veterans Heal

When it comes to charitable giving, we know it’s important that you, as a donor or supporter, know you are giving to a top-rated charity- one where you trust the mission, integrity, and financial responsibility of the organization. Tee It Up for the Troops is proud to announce that it has once again received a coveted Four-Star rating from Charity Navigator.

Charity Navigator rates organizations on four key beacons: impact and results, accountability and finance, leadership and adaptability, and culture and community. As a top-rated charity, Tee It Up for the Troops earned a 100% for the Accountability & Finance beacon, leadership and adaptability, and culture and community. Charity Navigator has not yet developed an algorithm to estimate Tee It Up for the Troop’s programmatic impact. 

According to Charity Navigator, receiving four out of a possible four stars indicates that an organization adheres to good governance and other best practices that minimize the chance of unethical activities and consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way.

Check out our top-rated charity profile on Charity Navigator HERE.

Charity Navigator helps highlight what percentage of a monetary donation is going directly to the support of a top-rated charity and nonprofit’s mission. Charity Navigator has given Tee It Up for the Troops an Encompass Rating of 100 out of 100! A score of 75 or above indicates that a nonprofit is effective and transparent based on Charity Navigator’s criteria. This means you can give with confidence!

In addition to Charity Navigator, top-rated charity Tee It Up for the Troops, has received the highest level of recognition offered by highly regarded “non-profit watchdogs” including GreatNonprofits and GuideStar.

This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator differentiates Tee It Up for the Troops and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust. As a valued supporter, you can have trust and confidence that we will be excellent stewards of your money.

 

Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar Once Again Achieved

Top-rated charity, Tee It Up for the Troops.
Top-rated charity Tee It Up for the Troops has once again earned a Platinum Seal of Transparency, the highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar.The Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar indicates that a non-profit shares clear and essential information with the public about its goals, strategies, capabilities, and achievements that highlight the difference the organization is making in the world. 
 
Tee It Up for the Troops is committed to transparency and fiscal responsibility. We are pleased to earn a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, the highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information.
 
 
“I encourage you to visit our nonprofit profile on GuideStar to see what we’re all about,” says Tim Wegscheid, President & Executive Director of Tee It Up for the Troops. “We’re thrilled once again to receive the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.  The associated benefits help us communicate our organization’s exciting initiatives and demonstrate transparency.” 
 
Check out our top-rated charity profile on GuideStar HERE. 
 
The Platinum Seal of Transparency demonstrates Tee It Up for the Troop’s exceptional trustworthiness, financial strength, fiscal management best practices, and tangible successful outcomes in its mission as a veterans’ support organization to honor, remember, respect, and support all those who serve(d) in the Armed Forces for this great nation.
 
Top-rated charity, Tee It Up for the Troops, is proud to announce the 2023 Platinum Transparancy award from GuideStar.
 
Here is one of Tee It Up for the Troops’ external reviews you can view on GuideStar:
 

“An Iraq war battle buddy of mine reached out to me and asked if me and my wife would like to participate in a golf outing with him. It had been over 10 years since I had last seen him in Iraq. Of course I said yes. It turned out to be a wonderful and healing event.

Tee it up for the Troops provided everything, including round trip airfare, lodging, meals, golf, and the opportunity to reunite with my old friend and meet new ones. As a disabled veteran, it can sometimes be difficult to open up and talk about some of the things that we experienced. Tee it up for the Troops provided a wonderful, comfortable, and fun atmosphere to provide a healing experience. A wonderful and excellent organization.”

Tee It Up for the Troops Donates 25th Golf Cart to Fisher House Foundation to Assist Veterans and Their Families.

Tee It Up for the Troops Donates the 25th Golf Cart to Fisher House Foundation to Assist Disabled Veterans and Their Families. 
 

“It’s great teaming up with E-Z-GO and the Fisher House Foundation and working together to make our heroes’ lives better,” said Tim Wegscheid, President & Executive Director for Tee It Up for the Troops. “I truly believe our veterans and their families are entitled to be taken care of, and donating these vehicles is just one way we do that.”

For the last eleven years, Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO, in partnership with E-Z-GO distributor Versatile Vehicles of Prior Lake, Minn., has delivered several vehicles a year to Fisher Houses across the nation. The first was delivered to the Augusta VA Medical Center in Georgia in 2012, with others reaching the East Coast’s Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland, the West Coast’s Camp Pendleton in California, and midwestern Fisher Houses in Milwaukee, Wisc. and Minneapolis, Minnesota.   This month, Tee It Up for the Troops Donates the 25th Golf Cart to the Fisher House Foundation with the destination of Fisher House of Columbia, South Carolina.

Fisher Houses are beautiful homes built and donated by the Fisher House Foundation to the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs. These homes enable family members to stay free of charge and be close to a loved one during hospitalization for an injury, illness, or disease.

The customized and street-ready golf carts will allow patients and their family members to travel from the veteran’s hospital where they are receiving treatment to their local Fisher House or other therapeutic areas without getting in and out of a vehicle or navigating large parking areas.

Tee It Up for the Troops partners with Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc., the manufacturer of E-Z-GO vehicles, to donate these customized vehicles to each new Fisher House.

“Tee It Up for the Troops has been there for us and has provided a vehicle to every one of our houses on a VA property that has needed one,” said Brian Gawne, Vice President of Community Relations for Fisher House Foundation. “Parking and getting around on a VA campus is always a challenge, and some families are not mobile. Thanks to Tee It Up for the Troops and E-Z-GO, these cars are a godsend when families are facing a tough medical crisis.”

Electric shuttles can take a family or injured warrior from a Fisher House to a VA hospital or medical appointment.
Electric shuttles can take a family or injured warrior from a Fisher House to a VA hospital or medical appointment.

 

“Electric shuttles that are quiet and efficient can take a whole family or injured warfighter from a Fisher House around the campus to receive therapy or see a doctor,” said Brandon Haddock, Director, Communications at Textron Specialized Vehicles. “The vehicles can traverse facility paths, parking lots, and even into the entry of a VA hospital. It’s great to see how excited people are about the shuttles and to give the veterans something they really need.”

“These stretch electric shuttles, which can comfortably accommodate six passengers, are customized with many added features for the comfort and safety of veterans,” said Gaby Accad, owner of Versatile Vehicles, whose distributorship customizes many of the Fisher House vehicles. Additions include safety lights, turn signals, a rear seat that can convert to a flatbed to carry a wheelchair or other equipment, and a retractable windshield to block wind and rain.

Accad works with local companies to donate custom features, including red, white, and blue premium seats embroidered with the Tee It Up for the Troops logo, decals that are applied to the custom-painted cars, and shipping of the cars at donated or reduced rates to their destination. 

Wounded Vets Finding Healing and Hope On and Off Golf Course at REUNION

2023 REUNION

For the past 11 years, Tee It Up for the Troops has hosted REUNION, a veteran outreach initiative where wounded vets find healing and hope on and off the golf course. REUNION reunites battle buddies who were separated due to battlefield injuries. Through REUNION, combat warriors reconnect with those they trust most, experience healing, and develop new relationships and support networks, helping them with their ongoing transition from the battlefield to the home front.

Hometown, High School, and Warrior Buddies - Dan Thiesfeld, and Nick Kimmel - Reunite at REUNION

Hometown, High School, and Warrior Buddies – Dan Thiesfeld, and Nick Kimmel – Reunite at REUNION 

“I almost teared up just giving him a hug because I haven’t seen him in forever. It meant so much. Just to be here at this event, to see all these people and hear all their stories is just amazing,” said one warrior attendee.

Click below to watch the emotional video of how our 2023 wounded vets find healing and hope on and off the golf course at REUNION. 

REUNION Stories Video

Non-Profit Partners Expo

Many valued non-profit partners “stepped up to the tee” at REUNION by participating in the Non-Profit Partner Resource Expo. Throughout REUNION, our non-profit partners each bring unique resources that are introduced and available for veterans and their families.

 

Non-Profit Partners Expo at REUNION. 
Non-Profit Partners Expo at REUNION. 

 

Most of these partners also send combat veterans to experience the healing and hope that comes from attending REUNION.  These wounded vets find healing and hope on and off the golf course

Below is a list of the wonderful non-profit partners who brought support to REUNION and links to their organizations.

Fisher House
Hero Miles
CreatiVets
Combat Vets to Careers
The Warriors Journey
Leashes of Valor
On Course Foundation
SMGA
Move United Warfighters
American Legion
VFW

These organizations are a big part of the success of REUNION! We wish to thank each and every one of them for their support!

Thank You 2023 REUNION SPONSORS!!

 

Desert Mountain Golf Club Event Brings Healing To Gold Star Mother

Gold Star Mother, Vicki Dryer, is recognized byTee It Up for the Troops President and Executive Director, Tim Wegscheid

The Tee It Up for the Troops  Desert Mountain Golf Club Event in Arizona, like all our military charity events,  honors both our fallen soldiers and those Gold Star Families left behind. This particular event brought healing and involvement for one Gold Star Mother.

Vicki Dryer’s son, Corey, was only in the Army for a little over a year. During his first deployment to Afghanistan, he was killed in action about two months into his assignment. “Before Corey left for deployment, he had a talk with me to prepare me,” Vicki stated. “He knew he was going to a really bad place. He said ‘Mom, everyone will move on…my wife, my sisters, others …except you Mom.’ He would be so surprised at all the people, including those he served with, that will always carry him and his story forward.”

Fallen Hero US Army PFC John Corey Johnson's body arrives at Dover Air Force Base on May 28, 2011.
A U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Pfc. John C. Johnson, of Phoenix, Ariz., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., May 28, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik)

 

Vicki started working at the Desert Mountain Golf Club after Corey’s death when she was feeling the early stages of intense grief. “I was really, really struggling,” said Vicki. “My husband encouraged me to get out of the house and off the computer.” She had never been on a golf course before, but a friend drove the beverage cart and encouraged her to apply at the Desert Mountain Golf Club. During the interview, Vicki told the golf course personnel that she was seriously grieving over the loss of her son, but that she was honest, hard-working, and could learn just about anything. She was hired and started out driving the beverage cart, but soon was doing a little bit of everything around the club. When the first Tee It Up for the Troops golf charity event came to Desert Mountain in May of 2022, everyone at the club agreed that Vicki needed to be involved.

Vicki, who finds her way forward by getting involved to honor and support all those who have sacrificed so much to serve our nation, was instrumental in getting the first Desert Mountain event off the ground.

In the military, there’s a saying “no man left behind.” At Tee It Up for the Troops, we want to let Gold Star Families know they won’t be left behind either.

Gold Star Families are the surviving family members of military personnel who died while on active duty. During our golf events’ open ceremonies, we provide an opportunity for Gold Star families to honor their loved ones and fallen warriors.

Gold Star Family Ceremony honoring loved ones.
Gold Star Family Ceremony honoring loved ones.

 

Vicki, a proud Gold Star Mother, honored her son, Corey, at our Desert Mountain Golf Club Charity Event in Phoenix, AZ last May. PFC John Corey Johnson died on May 27, 2011, from wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

Vicki organized many aspects of the patriotic event, including the Arizona Patriot Guard Riders arriving at the event with flags waving on their motorcycles, elements of the opening ceremony, including an Honor Guard, and a wreath-laying by Gold Star Families. Vicki will tell you that the most important thing she did in helping to organize the golf charity event for military veterans was “wearing the hat.” “For months leading up to the event, I wore that Tee It Up for the Troops golf hat and talked to everyone I could about the event,” Vicki explained.

Patriot Rider Motercycles.
Patriot Rider Motorcycles.

 

“Getting involved in the Tee It Up for the Troops Desert Mountain Golf Club event brought me additional healing and great joy,” Vicki said. “People who find great joy in life, give back. I had taken a break from giving back and after examining my happiness, I figured that I needed to show love and give back.”

“Being a volunteer and getting intrenched with this charity helped me immensely,” Vicki added. “The Tee It Up for the Troops event is truly unique.  It honors our military and fallen soldiers in a very patriotic way, but it’s not all somber like some remembrance events. It was great to see everyone having fun on the golf course and how everyone was enjoying themselves.” 

PFC John Corey Johnson, 28, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division and was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in March of 2011. This was during a very heightened conflict time with the Taliban and al-Qaeda shortly after Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. Forces. Insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire, killing Corey.  

PFC John Corey Johnson.
PFC John Corey Johnson.

 

Six other members of Corey’s battalion were also killed in action during this conflict. Sadly, three additional members of his unit would die by suicide.

On Mother’s Day in 2011, from Afghanistan, Corey sent his mom, Vicki, a dozen roses, a gift box of Shari’s Berries, and a card. Corey joked with his stepfather, “Beat that Dryer…all the way from Afghanistan!” Nineteen days later Corey was killed in action.

Vicki, Corey and grandaughter McKenna.
Vicki, Corey, and granddaughter McKenna.

 

When asked for the three things Vicki would want others to know about her son, Corey, she replied:

“He was a defender of his sisters, his mom, and his family.  He always took care of all things good.”

“He was funny. He would hide in strange places and jump out and scare me.”

“He was unique. He was a redneck – that was my pet name for him. I told him he could not get a tattoo unless it was a tattoo for his mom.  At 18 he got a tattoo that read ‘redneck.’ He called it his ‘mom tattoo.’  He also had his daughter, McKena’s feet from her birth certificate tattooed on his chest. Those baby feet left a lasting impression on the men who cut his uniform off and performed medical attention to try to keep him alive.”

Corey’s awards and decorations include the Army the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

It is the ultimate sacrifice that Corey and others have made on behalf of their country that we remember and honor at Tee It Up for the Troops golf events. “It’s really important as a nation to remember that Afghanistan was the longest war in American history,” said Vicki. The effects of this war are generational. Our work and our gratitude are never done.”

Please take a moment to watch the Desert Mountain event video below. It’s an impactful patriotic video reminding all of us of the blessings and freedoms we have due to the service and sacrifices of our amazing military men and women.

Look What We’ve Accomplished Together in 2022!

As we enter a New Year we want to celebrate everything that YOU have helped Tee It Up for the Troops achieve. Because of your commitment to HELP VETERANS GET BACK ON COURSE, here are a few highlights of what we accomplished TOGETHER in 2022!

Charitable Donations

Exceeded over $13 million in charitable donations since 2005 to directly assist combat veterans and their families.

Non-Profit Awards

We accomplished together great ratings and impressed the Non-Profit Watchdogs with these awards:

Tee It Up for the Troops has been honored once again with a 2022 Top-Rated Nonprofit by GreatNonprofits! Read inspiring stories about our impact HERE!

Your Commitment to Volunteering 

We accomplished together the success of many events and you devoted over 19,015 volunteer hours – helping us continue to be very efficient stewards of all donations received!

REUNION Event

Celebrated the 10th Anniversary of REUNION! Over those years, more than 400 combat veterans were reunited with their battle buddies. This supports the VA’s research that these reunions make a significant impact in helping combat veterans heal and transition to civilian life.

2022 Charity Golf Events We Accomplished Together

Hosted 658 events since inception, helping deliver impactful support for military families and connecting veterans to their communities.

2022 saw 5 NEW events added in Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, Arizona, and other SOLD OUT events across the USA!

We are truly HONORED and THANKFUL that each of you chose TEE IT UP FOR THE TROOPS to partner with to HELP VETERANS HEAL!