Tee It Up for the Troops – SeaCliff proudly supports Warrior Foundation~Freedom Station

The Tee It Up for the Troops events at SeaCliff Country Club (Huntington Beach, CA), Vista Valley Country Club (Vista, CA) and Alta Vista Country Club (Placentia, CA) have joined forces to support the Warrior Foundation~Freedom Station located in San Diego, CA. The Warrior Foundation~Freedom Station assists four main groups of warriors: the seriously injured just returning home from war; those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury; those undergoing physical or occupational therapy, and warriors who have been medically retired and remain in our community. To serve this last group in particular, they pioneered a new approach and opened Freedom Station – a unique recovery transition center and housing facility that provides injured warriors with the acclimation time, guidance and resources to successfully make the transition from military service to civilian life.

In particular, the donation of $37,500 from the SeaCliff Country Club was used to support Freedom Station and the Wolfpack Wheelchair Basketball Team. As mentioned above, the Freedom Station is a unique recovery transition center and housing facility that provides injured warriors with the acclimation time, guidance and resources to successfully make the transition from military service to civilian life.

Freedom Station Courtyard
Freedom Station Courtyard

The San Diego Wolfpack is the only all-military wheelchair basketball team in the United States that is comprised of active duty service members and veterans who have sustained an amputation, spinal cord injury or other orthopedic or neurological disorder. Members from all service branches are included, and the team currently includes players from the Army, Marine Corps and Navy.  Freedom Station Wolf Pack Wheelchair BBall game

For our injured warriors, participating in the Wolfpack has helped to increase quality of life, promote healthy lifestyles and teamwork, and foster a sense of pride and accomplishment. The team truly has much to be proud of. In its second year, the Wolfpack went 27-3 and emerged from 83 teams to finish 2nd  in the national championships. Warrior Foundation-Freedom Station supports the Wolfpack by providing funds for equipment, practice facilities, and transportation, travel and lodging to regional and national games and championships across the country. Some of the required equipment includes uniforms, league regulation basketballs, ultra light wheelchairs and much more.

 

FIRST “OPERATION HEARTFIRST” GYM OFFICIALLY OPENS

Grand Opening ceremonies for, military veterans, Tristan and Hannah Ambrozewski’s Anytime Fitness gym in Southern Pines, NC – near Fort Bragg – took place on April 12th, 2016.

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The very first beneficiaries of a partnership between Tee It Up for the Troops and Anytime Fitness’ Operation HeartFirst initiative are dedicated to helping other military veterans and their families get to a healthier place.

Asked what they would like to say to Operation HeartFirst contributors, Tristan replied, “Three things:  Thank you.  Thank you.  And thank you!”

The next Operation HeartFirst recipient(s) will be introduced at Anytime Fitness’ conference in Lake Placid in August of 2016. This opportunity is for the Columbus, GA area near Fort Benning. Click here for information about the 2nd Operation Heartfirst opportunity. Applications are due by May 1st!

Proceeds From Inaugural Event Held at Bent Tree Country Club Making A Difference!

Retired Marine and Bent Tree Country Club member, Jay Cassen, along with former marine and Asst General Manager, Kyle Ruch, presented Clint Bruce, former Navy Seal and co-founder of Carry The Load with a $46,000 donation which will be used to continue the mission of Carry The Load.

In addition to this local donation, we were also able to contribute another $46,000 to other veteran service organizations including Fisher House Foundation, Disabled Sports USA, and Hope For The Warriors among others!

These donations were made possible from the generous attendees of the Inaugural Tee It Up for the Troops event held at Bent Tree Country Club on Veteran’s Day 2015.

Thank you to all who made these donations possible and for helping Tee It Up for the Troops fulfill OUR MISSION to HONOR, RESPECT, REMEMBER and SUPPORT all those who have served in the armed forces for our great nation!

Bent Tree Tee It Up for the Troop Golf event
Bent Tree Tee It Up for the Troop Golf event

Donation to Carry The Load

Bogey is the best thing that ever happened to this soldier!

Thank YOU sponsors, donors and volunteers – it is because of YOU that this healing is happening…

From Drew Brandenburg: “I just wanted to let you all know he (Bogey) is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and you guys couldn’t have blessed me any better than by donating the funds (to K9s For Warriors) for Bogey. He has turned my world around and it’s only been 2 months.

“Without organizations like yours soldiers continue to fall and are never able to get back up. Thank you again for all you do and have done, not only for me but for all veterans you connect with.”

Drew and Bogey 2Drew and Bogey 1

 

 

4th Annual Reunion Outreach

Tee It Up for the Troops proudly hosted its 4th annual “REUNION” outreach initiative in January at Reunion Resort in Orlando. This event, which has continued to grow every year, combines beautiful surroundings with a wonderful group of people gathered together to support a critical cause. 

This year’s event featured:

  • 34 invited warriors
  • 17 warriors invited by key partners
  • 16 other veterans
  • 21 supportive caregivers
  • One 99 year old World War II veteran
  • One 93 year old World War II veteran
  • One original member of the world renowned recording group, the Commodores – Thomas McClary (below)

The concept of this unique Reunion program is to reunite wounded, ill or injured service members who had been separated due to battlefield injuries, changes in rehabilitation status, or for other reasons beyond their control. The objective is that through these reunions, participating veterans can dramatically enhance their reintegration process into productive and fulfilling civilian lifestyles.

 Hosted in a secure and supportive environment, and staged around the rehabilitative aspects of the game of golf, participants at Reunion can not only reconnect with those who are most trusted, but also develop new relationships and support networks to help them “heal, transition, grow, and thrive.” Throughout Reunion, these combat altered warriors enjoy therapeutic time on the golf course and also participate in a variety of helpful sessions to support a healthy lifestyle.

Reunion Resort offered the perfect setting to reunite this diverse group of warriors from all across the country.  Together, they were able to discuss and identify some important areas of care, and also address those areas that are still unmet.  

We also hosted productive breakout sessions with all attending caregivers which provided valuable insight into many of the key challenges that they face on a daily basis.  Many ideas were shared on various ways to bond, strengthen themselves and their warriors, and support each other as this group continues to fight a very different kind of battle.

In addition, key partners including Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, Fisher House Foundation, Disabled Sports USA/Warfighter Sports, Hope for the Warriors, and Troops First also reunited for productive dialogue on how we can more effectively assist each other to better serve our respective missions.

Many additional sponsors and private parties also came together as a family to enjoy one of this country’s finest freedoms – the incredible game of golf!

All of these various groups joined together at this Reunion event to support our military families and our Tee It Up for the Troops mission.  A survey conducted following the event provided some valuable insight into the effectiveness of the Reunion concept:

  • Respondents reported a 31% reduction in their level of stress after attending Reunion
  • Respondents reported a 25% increase in their feelings of “hopefulness” after attending Reunion
  • Respondents reported a 41% increase in “feeling connected” after attending Reunion

Needless to say, we were very pleased to see those encouraging results! Below you will also find some direct warrior quotes that help remind us of the many fun activities and positive results from this Reunion week.  

We look forward to reuniting with many of you again next year and sharing the Reunion experience with many newcomers!

TIUFTT_Reunion_2015-8800Quotes: 

“… it was really great to see the camaraderie, some relationships formed and others strengthened, and healing happening in front of you.  It is clear that once again this event will make a difference in the lives of those who attended, their families and others in their lives.”

“I don’t think words could ever express how much this year and last year affected my life and my marriage. I believe lives and marriages (were) changed this weekend.”

“I departed with a profound sense of comfort that Tee It Up for the Troops is one of the best organizations supporting military veterans that I have been associated with in my over 30 years of service and working for veterans causes.” 

“Dealing with my team leaders death had me thinking suicide. Going to (this) event saved my life. I cannot say thank you enough.”

“I want to personally thank you for your love and commitment to veterans. The fact that (my son and his battle buddy) were included and able to reunite made me cry with joy.”

“Reunion 2015 was an amazing experience… I was witness to the great impact it had on all who attended. Re-connecting with friends and family is very important and a major help in recovery.”

 “It was a honor for us to attend!  Thank you and to all of the people involved that made this possible.  Dad talks about it every day.”

 “This event feels like a first class family reunion.  I cherish the ability to see all the familiar faces and to meet wonderful new ones.  Tee It Up genuinely cares and it shows big time.”

Making a Difference to Veterans Kids at Camp Soaring Eagle

The following article provided by Camp Soaring Eagle in Cornville, Arizona is one of the many organizations Tee It Up for the Troops works with to help and support disabled veteran’s families. We recently made a donation and received this great article for the folks at Camp Soaring Eagle.

Kids Archery at Camp Soaring EagleWhen Aaron gripped the end of the arrow and drew back the bow no one could have suspected that it was his first time at an archery course. But for Aaron, who has autism, the Bull’s-Eye he shot propelled him beyond his disorder and amazed the counselors and his friends. Aaron and his parents were participating in the inaugural camping weekend for Arizona’s Veteran’s kids, November 7 -9th at Camp Soaring Eagle in Cornville that was sponsored in large part by Tee It Up For The Troops.

The Bull’s Eye was just one of many “firsts” for Aaron that weekend. He caught his first fish and volunteered to sing Wings of an Eagle on stage during the talent show. His father, an airman stationed at Luke Air Force Base, Glendale, AZ said, “This has been a great experience for my son. Heck, I didn’t even know he liked fishing! We are so grateful to those who made this camping experience possible for our son and for all the other military dependent children here this weekend. There are no other resources like this available that I know of for military kids.”

flag raising at campThanks to the financial contribution from Tee It Up for the Troops, twenty-six children whose parents serve in the Army, Air Force, and the National Guard/ Reserve came together for a fun-filled weekend with other kids facing the same issues unique to military dependent children. During the camping weekend, these kids found solace in the realization that they weren’t alone in their struggles and that there are other kids who understand what they are going through.

Recent studies by Child Trends, a nonprofit research center, found that while children are resilient having a parent go to war can take a steep and potentially long-lasting toll during their critical early years when the brain is growing rapidly and children are developing a sense of trust in the world. Children who have a soldier parent often endure multiple deployments, extended separations and often tense and awkward reunions when that parent returns to the home. This creates much of the same anxiety, depression, aggression and withdrawal that adults experience, particularly when a parent has been physically or mentally traumatized.

A first-of-its-kind nationwide assessment, Study on Children of Seriously Wounded Service Members, reveals that while over 400 organizations exist to provide support and resources to seriously wounded service members and their families, the research reveals current offerings are limited and almost nonexistent in directly supporting children.

Camp Soaring Eagle’s founder Max James served honorably as an Air Force rescue helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. It was his desire to create a FREE camp for children in Arizona who have serious illnesses. Max soon recognized that children of military families often suffer pain and wounds, although invisible, that are very much as serious as physical illness. For that reason he added a camping weekend to the year-round schedule dedicated to serving the children of Arizona’s service members.

kids at camp“We are honored”, Max James said, “to be supported by the Tee It Up For The Troops organization that helped fund this important camping weekend for the kids of military personnel stationed in Arizona. This inaugural weekend saw healthy veteran’s kids as well as dependent children who suffer from AIDS, asthma, autism, and blood disorders.” Max James emotionally added, “Our military families sacrifice so much for the good of our country, whether it’s the deployed troops, the spouses who hold down the fort at home or the innocent children simply trying to cope with an absent parent. The generosity of Tee It Up For The Troops is essential for us to continue to offer this kind of camping experience and we are eternally grateful to them.” For more information and ways that you can help Camp Soaring Eagle continue their mission, go to www.campsoaringeagle.org.

Tee It Up for the Troops’ Work with Freedom Station Highlighted in Tee Times

Warrior Foundation – Freedom Stationfreedom station

A Major Beneficiary of Funds Raised at Golf Events by Tee It Up for the Troops

Tee It Up for the Troops is highlighted in the June edition of Tee Times Magazine. The article describes the fund raising activity performed by Tee It Up for the Troops for both national and local organizations who assist wounded, ill and injured warriors, along with their families, to make the transition to civilian life where they can grow and thrive. The focus of the article is on Freedom Station and Warrior Foundation that provide temporary housing and support to veterans and their families. Click here to view the article from Tee Times Magazine.

 

Filling the gap with an assistance dog from PawPADS

Meet Staff Sgt. Patrick Ziegler, a Fort Hood massacre survivor. Patrick was just moments away from being cleared to attend Officer Candidate School when he was shot in the head, shoulder, arm and hip.

November 5, 2009 was destined to change – forever – the lives of SSgt. Patrick Zeigler and Jessica Hansen. But not in the way they had planned! SSgt. Zeigler had just returned from his second combat deployment in Iraq and had returned 3 weeks ahead of his unit because he was set to begin Officer’s Candidate School. Later that fateful day he would receive his final Army enlisted separation clearance to leave Fort Hood, TX to head to Fort Benning, GA to begin school to become an Officer.

Then It Happened!

In a hailstorm of bullets, Nidal Malik Hasan, Army Major and psychiatrist turned radical Muslim terrorist, opened fire – killing 13 people and an unborn child as well as injuring 31 soldiers that were wearing the same uniform that he was wearing. With gunshots to his head, shoulder, forearm and hip and the last pints of precious blood were being pumped from his body through the massive head wounds, his first thought was to call his fiancée, Jessica. Initially, the first medic to reach him was told to sit with him until he died because they did not think his wounds were survivable. With so many people injured who required medical care, the medics had to make the difficult decisions of who to use vital resources on. However, he maintained consciousness and began talking to the medics and asking them to help him. Once they saw the fight Patrick had in him, they decided to give him a chance and they immediately began performing care on him and got him into an ambulance. He was one of the first victims to arrive at the hospital emergency room on Fort Hood and he perfectly described the shooter and the details of the scene before he lost consciousness and was airlifted to the trauma center for brain surgery. The bullet that entered his skull, shattered on impact and also shattered his bone, leaving his brain filled with bullet and bone fragments that caused near fatal bleeding. During surgery to save his life, 20-30% of his brain was actually removed. He was given less than a 5% chance of survival. Jessica remembers being told he would likely be left in a vegetative state and that I “should put him in a nursing home and move on”.

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Fast Forward To Today.12274400644_efb5cf331b_b-2
After enduring more than 10 brain surgeries, 4 of which resulted in life-threatening complications that set Patrick back and required he relearn basic skills, including how to walk, all over again he has begun living his life anew. With his wife, Jessica, who at the age of 22 made the decision to be a care giving wife the rest of her life, are the proud parents of an 18-month-old son, Liam.

About 4 months ago the Zeigler family, living in Rochester, MN had their lives changed once again – this time for the better!

Thanks to our supporters and PawPADS, Staff Sgt. Patrick Ziegler, his wife Jessica and son, Liam welcomed assistance dog Ranger to their home after Patrick and Ranger graduated from PawPADS assistance dog training.

This is just one of the many ways Tee It Up for the Troops fills the gap in the lives of these American heroes.

You can learn more about Patrick’s story from Tee Times Magazine.

 

12276512676_a5e18f9d7c_b-2-683x450Tee it up for the Troops, Inc. is a proud supporter of PawPADS. Seen in the picture to the left is our Chairman, Chuck Benson, presenting a $15,000 donation check to Linda Ball, Executive Director, PawPADS.

EZ-Go Cart Donation at 9th Annual Mendakota Event

Mendota Heights, MN – At the organization’s 9th annual fundraising event in Minnesota, Tee It Up For The Troops announced that they will donate a customized six-person E-Z-GO Golf Cart to each Fisher House that will be built and opened in the next three years.

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

The customized and street-ready golf carts will allow patients to travel from the Veterans hospital where they are receiving treatment to their local Fisher House without getting in and out of a car or van.

In 2012, Tee it up for the Troops donated an E-Z-GO golf cart to the Fisher Houses in Minneapolis and Augusta, Georgia.  The organization also donated a golf cart to a medical unit in Afghanistan in 2010.

Fisher House is planning for up to five new homes to open each year through 2016.

fisherhouse“Fisher House continues to be blessed, not just because Tee It Up for the Troops is such a generous benefactor for many years but because they are such a terrific partner in taking care of our men and women in uniform and their families,” said Derek Donovan, Vice President for Programs at Fisher House Foundation.  “Although Fisher Houses are located right on the grounds of military hospitals and VA medical centers, our guests are often patients themselves and their mobility is limited.  The E-Z-GO golf carts just make life easier and are a daily reminder that organizations like Tee It Up for the Troops are there for our heroes and their families.”

“Fisher House has been a great partner of Tee It Up For The Troops for many years”, said Paul Anderson, President & CEO of Tee it up for the Troops.  “Their ability to help ease the burden of finding lodging and food in a time of need for an American Hero is priceless. With the family surrounding the warrior, the healing process, and recovery can begin in a setting of comfort. We are honored to be a small part of that recovery process and hope these golf carts will be a blessing to the veterans and their families.”

Gaby Accad, Owner of Versatile Vehicles in Savage, Minnesota, has been the E-Z-GO dealer responsible for assisting in the project.  A supporter of Tee it up for the Troops from the beginning, he continues to see the important value in this project.  “E-Z-GO and Versatile Vehicles are proud of the relationship with Tee It Up For The Troops and believe whole-heartedly in our ability to help customize a top-of-the-line street ready golf cart that will be used to ease the burden of transportation to-and-from the hospital for our Heroes,” said Gaby Accad.

Minstar Transport, of St. Paul, has graciously donated the costs of transporting of the cart which will be delivered to the new Tennessee Fisher House in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which will open later this fall.

PawPADS – Stories of Freedom

By Randy Patrick, PawPADS Director of Operations 

Tee it up for the Troops has been a partner and friend of PawPADs for three years, and we never forget to express our gratitude.  As you know, the “PawPADs Difference” is that we use the value of the training and association with the dogs during training as therapeutic – sometimes healing – always inspiring  tool while the dogs are in the journey from puppyhood to partnership. We built our Paw Corps Program on a donation from TIUFTT and your continuing support has helped us grow and “grow up.” We aren’t the biggest Service Dog organization on the Minnesota map, but I dare say we are the one with the most integrity and heart and guts! We are making a difference in lives through Paw Corps and all our programs and we are proud to have TIUFTT on our side.

Recently we placed two dogs (Kachina and Hania), which were trained by Veterans in the Paw Corps program as Diabetic Alert Dogs.  Jill, whose 8 year old son, Nick, is partnered with Kachina, has told us that Kachina is “literally a life saver” for her son…alerting them in the middle of the night to Nicks dangerously plunging blood sugar levels.  Hania has been partnered with Katie Stuber, a volatile diabetic whose blood sugar levels rocket and plunge with alarming and life threatening speed. Katie is the wife of Lt. Joe Stuber, a Minnesota National Guard leader who is preparing for his deployment in a few weeks to Afghanistan. Hania will be on guard over Katie’s health 24/7 while Lt. Stuber guards our freedom in Afghanistan.  Lt. Stuber told me recently that If “she (Kachina) alerts just once while I’m gone, he will be worth it.” Hania, by the way, has alerted to Katie’s fluctuations dozens of times in the few short weeks he has been partnered with Katie!

How did TIUFTT make the difference in these three examples of many?

  • The Paw Corps veterans who helped train these dogs, Steve and Scott, still struggle with their PTSD and other issues, but both have told us their lives are immeasurably better for having become involved in this program.
  • We were able to place Hania with Lt. Stuber free of charge because of our relationship with TIUFTT. We feel that with Hania on the watch, Lt. Stuber will be more focused on his job, and perhaps be able to return home safely.
  • Darla J., another Paw Corps volunteer who has 5 deployments between herself and her husband with the Minnesota National Guard helped train Macy, who is living with and working with the veterans in the Hastings Veterans Home. Again, Darla has told us that her life is changed for her part in Paw Corps.
  • TIUFTT has helped enable PawPADs to feed the dogs, pay the heating bills, train the dogs, heal the dogs, and, sad to say, bury the Paw Corps mascot Maska (“Tank”). The dogs have helped change so many lives and we’ve only placed a few!