A Generous Gift to Honor and Remember

Story originally shared by Kopplin, Kuebler & Wallace (KK&W)

A Generous Donation to Tee It Up for the Troops, a military charity organization. 

As our world struggles to recover from the devastation inflicted by COVID-19, we at KK&W wanted to share some happy news of generosity and true selflessness with our friends and colleagues.

Recently, The Amelia Island Club (AIC) in Amelia Island, Florida retained our firm to conduct a search. Circumstances changed in the very beginning and the search was cancelled.

KK&W returned the deposit and AIC made a generous donation to Tee It Up For The Troops [a military charity organization] for our gesture. Since 2005, we have been a proud corporate sponsor of TIUFTT which has donated over $11,000,000 for the families of our veterans. This generous donation was made in “Memory Of” a fallen soldier Kelly Mixon.

David Shepler, GM/COO of AIC sent the partners an email to let them know the donation to the recommended military charity organization had been made in their honor and in memory of Kelly Mixon. Along with his note, he shared the story of Specialist Kelly Mixon who would have turned 24 two weeks after his death.

The rest of the story

“When arriving at any new job there are those staff members who really stand out and at AIC, one of those was a young Sous Chef, Amy Mixon. Amy really helped me through a difficult first 6 months when both the Executive Chef and Executive Sous Chef left shortly after my arrival. Over time I got to know Amy better and while she is a private person, through others I learned Amy’s husband, Kelly Mixon was killed in action in Afghanistan December 8, 2010.”

Dave’s son, Drew, an Army soldier, who served two tours in Afghanistan and was stationed in an adjoining province of Afghanistan. Drew recounted, with his father, hearing about Kelly and another soldier who were killed by a suicide bomber while on patrol. This was the first time, Dave ever put a personal face to the ultimate sacrifice many have given, with the realization that could have been his son and it hit home!

Kelly was a graduate of Fernandina Beach High School on Amelia Island, where he was an accomplished drummer and had played briefly for the Jacksonville Jaguars drum line from 2005-2006. Prior to enlisting, Kelly had worked his way up to sous chef with plans to use the G.I. Bill to attend a 4-year culinary institute and fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming an executive chef.

Prior to his death, Kelly was able to spend Thanksgiving at home with his friends and family doing his two favorite things, cooking and playing drums. He even stopped by and practiced with the current band members at his old high school, during this trip.

Even though Amy no longer works at AIC, she and Dave have remained very close, sharing a very special bond and this is why The Amelia Island Club donated to Tee It Up For The Troops in “Memory of Kelly Mixon.”

Thank you David Shepler, CCM, CCE, General Manager/COO and The Amelia Island Club -you are the best!

BRIDGESTONE GOLF CELEBRATES 15 YEARS OF SUPPORTING TEE IT UP FOR THE TROOPS WITH RELEASE OF NEW LIMITED EDITION E12 SOFT PATRIOT PACK

The e12 Soft Patriot Pack Delivers Unrivaled Value-Performance While Supporting America’s Veterans

COVINGTON, Ga. – (May 4, 2020) – Bridgestone Golf, the #1 Ball-Fitter in Golf, unveiled today its new Limited Edition e12 SOFT Patriot Pack supporting Tee It Up for the Troops.  The Patriot Pack features a dozen of the award-winning e12 SOFT white golf balls and a bonus sleeve of the popular e12 SOFT Matte Red, all housed in a red, white and blue themed package that any American patriot would be proud to display.  A portion of proceeds from sales will benefit Tee It Up for the Troops. 

Tee It Up for the Troops is a national non-profit organization that has donated greater than $11 million to programs that deliver critical services to help veterans from all eras heal and transition from the battlefront to the home front.  Through its REUNION Outreach Program and other partnering veteran service organizations, 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. Hosting more than 50 charity events held in over 40 states annually, Tee It Up for the Troops considers it a privilege to honor, remember, respect, and support all those who serve(d) in the United States Armed Forces. 

“Tee It Up for the Troops and Bridgestone have a storied history together, as the organization’s founding and the Bridgestone Golf brand’s entrance into the U.S. Market coincided in 2005,” said Dan Murphy, President and CEO of Bridgestone Golf. “Over the past 15 years both of us have grown together and we are excited to honor our 15-year relationship with this new e12 SOFT Patriot Pack initiative.  Bridgestone continues to serve as a National Sponsor, providing golf balls to the organization’s more than 50 tournaments annually.”

The e12 SOFT delivers increased firepower off the tee and reduced sidespin 

 for players who need it most using a proprietary Active Acceleration Mantle layer as a key component of their 3-piece construction.  The Active Acceleration Mantle is comprised of a High-Performance Polymer material that provides increased thrust and higher initial velocity at impact, while allowing Bridgestone to soften the core for greater forgiveness and enhanced feel.  In addition, the balls utilize Bridgestone’s Delta Wing Dimple pattern for less drag and optimized aerodynamics. The e12 SOFT is designed specifically for players with less than 105 mph swing speeds who fight sidespin challenges.  

The Bridgestone e12 SOFT Limited Edition Patriot Pack hits retail this week and features a selling price of $29.99 per dozen.  For more information on the entire family of 2020 Bridgestone Golf balls, visit www.bridgestonegolf.com

 

About Bridgestone Golf

Based in Covington, GA, Bridgestone Golf USA manufactures premium golf balls, clubs and accessories under the Bridgestone and Precept brands. The company started making golf balls in 1935 and today has 800 golf ball design patents. Beginning in 2006, Bridgestone revolutionized golf ball selection with its custom ball-fitting program, identifying a golfer’s ideal golf ball based on personal swing characteristics. Today, as the #1 Ball-Fitter in Golf, Bridgestone has conducted over 2.2 million fittings via a combination of live-fitting, online selection and its new VFIT service.  The consumer data gathered from ball-fitting continues to inspire Bridgestone’s innovative new golf ball designs, yielding industry-leading performance products for the entire range of players, from recreational golfers to the best in the world. Bridgestone Golf is proudly represented on international professional tours by icons such as Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Rocco Mediate and Lexi Thompson.  Bridgestone Golf USA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bridgestone Sports Co. Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo. More information:  bridgestonegolf.com.

Media Contacts:

Bridgstone: Jared Kelowitz, JDPR, jaredk@jdpr.com, cell: 864.901.2957

Tee It Up for the Troops: Theresa Johnson, theresa@teeitupforthetroops.org, cell: 612.747.0047

A Message From our President Regarding our Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: We’re Stronger Together!

In the video below, our President and Executive Director, Tim Wegscheid, shares how isolation impacts our combat veterans by increasing symptoms associated with PTSD, high anxiety and thoughts of suicide. 

Tim also shares that as a Veteran Service Organization, Tee It Up for the Troops is committed to “raising the ante and working even harder” to fulfill our mission and support all those who served to defend the great freedoms we have as Americans. 

Will you join us? Will you “Step Up To the Tee” and help us support all those who stood for freedom? 

A Need to Rise: Written by US Navy Warrior, Matthew Underwood

This article was published on February 20, 2020 as part of a series of articles written by Matt  and is being re-published with his permission.

Matt Underwood from Chesapeake coped with the effects of PTSD while he served in the Navy by playing golf. He was recently named as a PGA HOPE Ambassador by the nonprofit PGA of America. He will be helping other veterans through the game of golf.

So. I hit a golf shot the other day. And I didn’t even celebrate. It was because I expected to hit that shot. It really was a beautiful shot though, an 8-iron, about 130 yards to the pin. And I landed it 3 feet from the cup.

A year ago, I never would have made that shot. I wouldn’t have even gotten lucky and made it. What changed? Lots and lots of practice and drills. Over and over. And taking the advice of my father-in-law as we played together and he would point out little things and tips he’d learned.

One of the quirky things about humanity, is that as humans grow and learn, the important things that we learn, are really nothing more than what others have learned before us. We just learn them for ourselves. While the knowledge is not new to humanity, it is new to our own humanity.

Kinda like a 130 yard shot to 3 feet from the cup. Lots of other people have learned how to do that. But it’s no less meaningful to me because THEY can, it means the same to me. Cause I learned how to do that. And I’m proud of that. I can’t do it every time, but I can do it enough of the time to make the game fun.

So. A need to rise. We have a need to rise above what we are. This is the process of humanity. As new-born babies, we don’t THINK about doing this, we just do it. We learn to crawl and then toddle and then walk and then run. We don’t analyze this process, we just execute it.

But something changes as we get older. The tasks we face become harder. We start asking ourselves questions like, “Is this worth the effort?” and “Why should I be better when others around me aren’t?” and sometimes we just don’t give a hoot anymore. Even worse, sometimes we feel like we’re not capable of it anymore.

Henry David Thoreau commented, in “Life in the Woods”, on a snake he saw in cold water of winter. The snake lay still, torpid.

That’s kinda like what mental health disorders do to a person. You kinda lay there(metaphorically speaking), unable to escape the endless do-loop driving you back to the symptoms, and your state never really changes. You are, like that snake, somewhat trapped in the disorders. You can flick your tail a little bit, but the core of what drives you, the disorders, stays the same, and what you’re doing really is just chasing your tail pointlessly.

But that pesky need to rise above the status quo kicks in. And so there’s a conflict, a conflict between the person you are, and the person you want to be. And while you may know the person you are, you have no idea about what the person you want to be is. Or what it should even look like.

Back to golf now. What has golf given me? An “exo-skeleton” as it were. An exo-skeleton I can overlay on to the golfer I am, and work to slowly rise to the golfer I want to be.

See, when you’re on a golf course, the course is in control. You have to adapt to it. You can’t magicaly push the fairway 50 yards to the right to accomodate your wide right hook. You have to learn to hit the ball straight. And you can’t take a shovel and widen the hole out, you have to learn to putt straight. The course is in control.

Exo-skeleton. See, golf gave me something I can aspire to. Like a kid wearing their dad’s boots, clomping around and pretending to be grown up like their dad. The funny thing is, that as I’ve aspired to get better at golf, some of those skills have risen up in other areas in my life.

So, that’s where I’m at. Rising. And I probably always will be, and that’s ok.

Partner SPOTLIGHT: Hero Miles

When Tee It Up for the Troops hosts its REUNION program in Florida each year to reunite combat service members, over 30 veterans and caregivers need flights to attend. This REUNION program is an expensive undertaking and Tee It Up for the Troops relies on support from many different sectors to assist us in delivering the benefits of helping attendees transition from the battlefront to the homefront.

Thankfully, in 2013, Hero Miles partnered with Tee It Up for the Troops and has since provided over 350 flights to ensure invited combat veterans and their caregivers are able to attend our REUNION event with no costs for flights.

The Hero Miles program (administered by Fisher House Foundation) provides round-trip airline tickets to wounded, injured, and ill service members – and/or their families or close friends – who are undergoing treatment at a military or VA medical center or who or who are attending an authorized event. Flights are made possible through frequent flyer mile donations made by individual airline passengers of participating airlines, or from donations by citizens. Many recovering service members cite reuniting with their fellow combat friends, like at REUNION, as a huge reason to fight hard to recover and never give up. For the Tee It Up for the Troops 2020 REUNION, 35 flights for our warriors and caregivers was made possible by Hero Miles.

“We are proud to partner with Tee It Up for the Troops by providing tickets through our Hero Miles program to help servicemembers heal,” said Dave Coker, President of Fisher House Foundation. “Tee It Up for the Troops shares our belief that a family’s love is good medicine. Their Reunion program brings combat veterans together, which for many servicemembers is an extension of their own family.”

Operation Hero Miles is a collaborative effort between individual airlines including AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Midwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways now merged with America West Airlines; air travel passengers who donate their frequent flyer miles to service members and their families; and the Fisher House Foundation which administers Operation Hero Miles and turns frequent flier mile donations into free airline tickets for military men and women injured due to service in Iraq or Afghanistan, bringing the wounded and their families together.

Hero Miles 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 Dave Coker, President, Fisher House Foundation and Tish Stropes, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Fisher House Foundation and who is responsible for the Hero Miles and Hotels for Heroes programs.

Grant Recipient SPOTLIGHT: Salute Military Golf Association

ParaGolfer instruction and practice.

We are proud to support organizations like The Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA) who are making a difference in the lives of combat veterans!  Similar to Tee It Up for the Troops, the SMGA aims to meld a love of country and love of golf to support the mental and physical rehabilitation programs of veterans. The SMGA’s mission is to provide rehabilitative golf programs, experiences, and family-inclusive golf opportunities for post 9/11 wounded war veterans to help improve the quality of life for these American heroes. Eligible veterans and service members include those wounded or injured in post 9/11 military operations, including those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Tee It Up for the Troops has granted over $100,000 to SMGA to help wounded veterans with their rehabilitation and transition to civilian life by providing golf instruction and golf equipment. Tee It Up for the Troops’ donations to SMGA have been put to good use in the purchase of custom-fitted golf clubs, specialized equipment such as ParaGolfers, and to expand programming beyond their 20 locations. In 2019-2020, SMGA programs will expand to Myrtle Beach, SC; Albany, OR; and Jacksonville, FL.   

Golf instruction at SMGA’s Olney, MD, Flagship Chapter.

“The partnership we share with Tee It Up for the Troops is the SMGA’s longest and dates back to a shared booth at the 2008 PGA Merchandise Show,” said James Winslow, Co-Founder/President, SMGA. “The SMGA could have never expanded beyond its single, original chapter and a handful of veterans without the dedicated support we’ve received from Tee It Up for the Troops over the years. That support has allowed the SMGA to provide programming to more than 3000 veterans and offer more than 2000 post-9/11 veterans custom-fitted golf equipment at no cost.”   

Tee It Up for the Troops recent 2019 grant will be used primarily to support the SMGA American Golfer Program. The American Golfer program affords participation in SMGA to wounded veterans who are not located within proximity to one of the clinic locations and matches post-9/11 wounded warriors with PGA of America professionals familiar with teaching adaptive golf. Through American Golfer, SMGA offers a series of private golf lessons covering all aspects of the game of golf. SMGA provides a custom-fitted set of clubs to any veteran who completes the program.

BETHESDA, MD – JUNE 26: Wounded Warrior Chris Bowers hits a shot on the 17th fairway during the Pro-Am round for the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club on June 26, 2013 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

Our grant partner, SMGA, also understands the unique needs of veterans returning home from service and have also witnessed first-hand the powerful benefits the game of golf can provide in improving the quality of life of wounded servicemen and women. Thank you SMGA for a great partnership and all you do for our veterans and their families! Together we are making a difference in the lives of combat veterans!

Vietnam War Battle Buddies Reunite After 47 Years

Terry Branham served 26 years of active duty in the U.S. Army and retired as a Colonel and Master Army Aviator. His service included conflicts in Vietnam, the Gulf War and the U.S. Drug War in South America as an Attack Helicopter Pilot. Among his many awards are several medals for valor, including a distinguished flying cross, a bronze star and silver star. This is Retired Colonel Terry Branham’s REUNION story. 

A man, who was like a kindred brother to me, was lost and could not be found.

Let me take you back to June 1970 and how we were separated on the battlefield.  Mike and I were both flying different missions in Cambodia.  Mike was flying an OH-6 LOH aircraft that searched for the enemy and then Cobra attack helicopters would attack the enemy when the OH-6 was taking fire. Mike’s aircraft was struck in a barrage of ground-to-air gunfire and Mike was shot in the right elbow and leg. With an injured leg and an inoperable arm, he was unable to fly the aircraft and the helicopter crashed. Mike and his crew chief survived the crash but once outside the aircraft they were under fire. Somehow, they were able to run to cover and later were rescued by helicopter and whisked back to the base hospital. Mike, running on the leg with a bullet that sheared his femur, caused the femur bone to jam upwards past the break in the bone. I heard of his incident and asked every day to be released to go see him back at our base Cu Chi Hospital. Three days later, I was back from my mission and was able to see Mike at the base hospital. He was in a full-body cast, needed traction, and reconstructive surgery. He was being medically evacuated back to the states and that is the last time I saw Mike for almost five decades.

Over the years, we tried to find each other, however, without the internet, and with a name change for Mike and a military top-secret security clearance for myself, trying to track each other down proved impossible.  It wasn’t until four years ago, through another veteran, that I learned Mike was still alive and I was able to obtain his contact information.

REUNION Program and Long-Awaited Phone Call 

With many Vietnam memories and emotions coming back to the surface, I was finally ready to pick up the phone and contact Mike.  After a few phone conversations, I had an unbelievable opportunity to invite Mike to REUNION, a Tee It Up for the Troops outreach program that reunites combat veterans and helps them heal and work through the hidden wounds of war including anxiety, depression, isolation, and suicide.

REUNION is hosted in a secure and relaxing resort environment, Reunion Resort, in  Kissimmee, Florida. If you are selected to attend REUNION, it is an all-expenses-paid trip including accommodations for you, your combat buddy, spouses or caregivers. Participants not only reconnect with those who are most trusted, they also develop new friendships and support networks to help them heal, transition, grow, and thrive. Mike and I both benefited from therapeutic time talking, participation in a variety of helpful breakout sessions, and playing some golf. Our spouses were able to meet, spend time together and benefited from peer support and educational sessions.

My Reunion with Mike

After not seeing my Vietnam combat brother for 47 years, I felt a wave of emotion when I saw and hugged him again at REUNION.  It’s how I picture heaven and reuniting with family members whom we have not seen for years.

We spent many hours sharing our post-Vietnam life stories which we wished we had been able to share throughout the years.  We reminisced with stories about our shared combat actions and the good things we believed we were doing for our fellow brothers in arms. We shared pictures of our time in combat.  We laughed about the same things that had made us laugh back then – taking away the tears we both shed when we were separated by Mike’s medical evacuation.

I was relieved that Mike had recovered and made a great life for himself. However, I had unresolved issues that hung over me for all those 47 years that aggravated the harsh, negative side effects of war for me.  What could have been different if I were flying with him that day? What would have happened?  I now had answers to the prayers I said for Mike so many times – prayers that he would live the full and happy life that he so deserved. I also had the foundation of a strong new friendship with a person who understood exactly what it meant to put your life on the line in service of your combat brothers and country.

A New Friendship and Inspiration Forged

Before leaving REUNION, Mike and I pledged to honor our friendship by staying in touch and continuing to share our lives and plan more activities together, and we are doing just that.  We go fishing together for a week every summer and talk about all the things brothers talk about.  It has inspired me to finally write about my experiences in Vietnam and all I learned about myself as a man and a warrior. Those long-ago experiences steeled me to be a leader who cared about the men and women I served with as much as I cared about my family.

Warriors make families. Warriors truly know what life is about. We know it isn’t about stuff. It’s about relationships…like those very meaningful relationships at REUNION that get rekindled, help you to heal, and bring new friendships and meaning into your life.


Learn more about REUNION.  Connect and reunite with a fellow combat veteran or to help veterans survive on the home-front and get back on course by sponsoring the event.

Tee It Up for the Troops Named 2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit by GreatNonprofits

Tee It Up for the Troops Named 2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit by GreatNonprofits

Award Based on Outstanding Online Reviews

Tee It Up for the Troops, with their national headquarters in Burnsville, Minn.,  announced today it has been named a “2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit” by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews of charities and nonprofits.

Tee It Up for the Troops provides critically needed services to combat veterans and their families and has hosted more than 500 fundraising events in over 40 states over the last 15 years, allowing the non-profit organization to donate over $10 million to veteran service organizations.

“We are honored to be named a Top-Rated 2019 Nonprofit,” says Tim Wegscheid, President & Executive Director for Tee It Up for the Troops. “We are humbled that so many veterans, family members, donors, volunteers and supporters took time to tell others how the Tee It Up for the Troops mission is impacting their lives. This award is incredibly special to us, in this, our 15th anniversary of dedicated service to support all those who serve(d) in the Armed Forces of our great nation.”

The Top-Rated Nonprofit award was based on the large number of positive reviews that Tee It Up for the Troops received – reviews written by volunteers, donors, and military veterans and family member aid recipients. People posted their personal experiences with the nonprofit.

For example, one combat veteran wrote, “After losing my leg in Iraq to a rocket propelled grenade, I needed a goal and direction. Tee It Up for the Troops helped me to set a goal with a sport that I can continue for a lifetime.” Another supporter wrote, “Tee It Up for Troops is in the life changing business!! They are selfless servants of our military community. Always giving of themselves to make other lives better. They have definitely changed our lives!!”

“Savvy donors want to see the impact of their donations more than ever,” said Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits. “People with direct experience with Tee It Up for the Troops have voted that the organization is making a real difference.”

GreatNonprofits is the leading website where people share stories about their personal experiences on more than 1.6 million charities and nonprofits. The GreatNonprofits Top-Rated Awards are the only awards for nonprofits determined by those who have direct experience with the charities – as donors, volunteers and recipients of aid.

To read about our five star ratings, reviews and add your own review if interested, please visit: https://greatnonprofits.org/org/tee-it-up-for-the-troops-inc