By Katie Lange
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
The annual Department of Defense Warrior Games currently underway at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, might be getting a lot of attention this week, but another event is also highlighting wounded warriors by giving them the opportunity to show off how far they’ve come in their rehabilitation while raising funds for other combat-wounded veterans.
At least two-dozen veterans and some Washington D.C.-area celebrities spent a cloudless Monday playing 18 holes of golf at the True Heroes Golf Tournament at the 1757 Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia.
But they didn’t do it just for fun or because it was a beautiful, sunny day. All of the proceeds from the event went to the Purple Heart Foundation, a nonprofit that offers VA claims assistance, job opportunities, health care resources and other help to combat-wounded veterans and their families.
Now I admit, I’m not a golfer — and by that I mean I’ve never golfed, ever. But I do understand there’s a lot of physicality to the swing – using your core, your glutes and pretty much all of your upper-body muscles to get that full rotation. So imagine if you had prosthetic legs to balance on or surgically repaired arms. It would probably make it that much harder, right?
It does. But for the vets who took part in the tourney, a lot of physical and mental reconditioning helped them handle it. Take Marine Corps veteran Lance Cpl. Nick Thom, for example.
Nick lost both of his legs and three fingers during an IED explosion in Afghanistan in April 2010. Recovery wasn’t easy, but he did it, and he spent this beautiful day teeing off to help others like him. Same goes for Marine Corps veteran Cpl. Chris Bowers, who lost his left leg in Iraq’s Anbar province in 2008.
Most of the vets who took part have come back from debilitating injuries, so the day was really a chance for them to show that no matter what they’ve suffered, it’s not stopping them from enjoying life. They even got to play with some local celebrities, including former Washington Redskins football player Rick “Doc” Walker.
Four of the wounded veterans, Charles Eggleston, Jonathan James, Steve Ogletree and Ralph Perpignan, won the whole thing with a total score of 50 — much below the course’s 70-stroke average.
The golfers were also able to bid on autographed merchandise and other items at the event. By the end of the day, the tournament had raised $29,000 for the Purple Heart Foundation, and that doesn’t even include donations that organizers said are still rolling in.
It’s always great to see those who’ve served our country get to do something special on a beautiful day. Congratulations to all of the veterans who took part and to those who came out for a good cause!
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