In April 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces, a national initiative to support and honor America’s service members and their families. The initiative aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of our society — citizens, communities, schools, non-profits, faith-based institutions, philanthropic organizations, and government — to ensure military families have the support they have earned.
In an effort to recognize those citizens and organizations with a demonstrated, genuine, and deep desire to be of service to military families, the First Lady and Dr. Biden have established the Joining Forces Community Challenge. The Challenge was established with the expectation that recognizing and celebrating those who are dedicated to improving the lives of military families will have the added benefit of encouraging others to do so as well.
To learn more about the Joining Forces Community Challenge click here.
Thank you to Kristen Howland for nominating Tee it up for the Troops for the Joining Forces Community Challenge. Posted below is a copy of the nomination letter she submitted.
I am nominating the organization TEE IT UP FOR THE TROOPS for your consideration for the JOINING FORCES COMMUNITY CHALLENGE
Nominator: KRISTEN HOWLAND – SAVAGE, MINNESOTA
I am a volunteer for this amazing organization, which was started by my good friend, James “JB” BALL. TEE IT UP FOR THE TROOPS (TIUFTT) was established in 2005 by JB. His son, Tyler Ball enlisted in the US Army after 9-11, 2001 and was deployed to Iraq shortly thereafter. You can only imagine the concern we all had for Tyler during this highly volatile time serving in this unstable part of the world. Tyler’s dad and mom, JB and Laurie, asked their son what he needed them to send. Tyler responded by telling his dad, “We have everything we need here, but please do something for the soldiers and their families back home. They are the ones who really need the help.” TIUFTT was created to honor that request and to recognize the needs of those who have served and continue to serve this great nation through their military service.
The main event established for TIUFTT was the National Day of Golf. Since it began in 2005, it has grown to include numerous golf outings throughout the country where proceeds benefit veterans from every military branch and conflict. Each year the event is scheduled on the Friday closest to September 11th. It started locally in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul at the Mendakota Country Club, and has quickly grown to include golf outings at hundreds of golf courses across the country. This is a day to salute all who have answered the call of duty in service to their country. The mission is to honor, respect, remember and support the sacrifices of all veterans AND their families. Monies raised at these events go to support organizations that make a difference in the lives of these very special people. It is the goal of TIUFTT to give 95% of the proceeds directly to any of the armed services vets. Just a few of those organizations include:
DISABLED SPORTS USA
The mission of DSUSA is to provide national leadership and opportunities for individuals with disabilities to develop independence, confidence, and fitness through participation in community sports, recreation and educational programs. The organization, established in 1967 by disabled Vietnam vets, exists to serve those injured in war. DSUSA offers nationwide sports rehabilitation programs to anyone with a permanent disability. Activities include winter skiing, water sports, summer and winter competitions, fitness and special sporting events.
FISHER HOUSE FOUNDATION
Fisher House Foundation donates “comfort homes,” built on the grounds of major military and BA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to their loved one at the most stressful time – during hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury. There is at least one Fisher House at every major military medical center to assist families in need and to ensure that they are provided with the comforts of home in a supportive environment.
HOPE FOR THE WARRIORS
Hope for the Warriors exists to enhance quality of life for US service members and their families nationwide who have been adversely affected by injuries or death in the line of duty. Hope for the Warriors actively seeks to ensure that the sacrifices of wounded and fallen warriors and their families are never forgotten nor their needs unmet.
INTREPID FALLEN HEROES FUND
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund supports the men and women of the Armed Forces and their families. In January 2007 the fund opened a world-class, state-of-the-art physical rehabilitation center at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. The center serves military personnel who have been catastrophically disabled in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and veterans severely injured in other operations and in normal performance of their duties. Here they also treat Traumatic Brain Injury and provide advanced services for treatment, family education, and post-traumatic stress.
WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT
The Wounded Warrior Project carries out its mission of honoring and empowering wounded warriors by providing unique programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.
If you haven’t had the privilege, I wish you could attend one of these amazing golf events. I have worked at every event since 2005 and each year is better than the year before – and I don’t even golf! The event starts very early in the morning and goes until about midnight. It is a celebrity golf tournament, yes. There is a round of morning golf and an afternoon as well. In between, there is a special program and a lunch for all participants and sponsors. The program includes the entrance down the green of a group of bagpipers in full regalia, the singing of the national anthem and a most moving presentation of an honorary wreath to honor fallen soldiers by the Gold Star Mothers representing the State of Minnesota. But there’s so much more: a live American Eagle display where people can ask questions and hold a live eagle, a demonstration group of working service dogs, a missing man formation flyover and the landing of a Blackhawk helicopter (in the helicopter are veterans representing all wars dating back to WWII). After the day of golf there is a massive silent and live auction and a wonderful banquet to celebrate all the servicemen and women. It is an event that everyone walks away from – a changed person. The most important part is the celebrities, of course there are professional sports figures and other celebs, but the REAL celebrities are real-life soldiers who’ve been wounded, many are amputees, some are missing multiple limbs. They come to golf in specially equipped carts made just for them and are honored by everyone in attendance by their presence. The organization flies them in from Walter Reed and other facilities. TIUFTT gives them the red-carpet treatment and each has their own moving story to share.
Now the National Day of Golf raises funds at courses across the nation, but beyond that, golf courses, nationwide, can participate on different levels by making donations to TIUFTT as well. Organizations and businesses can become sponsors as well and this is a very big part of organizing the event. JB started TIUFTT, but it is operated by a governing board. The event itself is run by JB and his family, the board and hundreds of giving volunteers who believe equally in the effort.
Here is one short story of Charles Eggleston, a Purple Heart Recipient:
“Tee it up for the Troops is one of those rare organizations that truly cares about the service members and veterans of this country. I am so humbled and thankful to be involved with them. When I was at Walter Reed, I was thinking that I wouldn’t be able to participate in any sporting activities after all of my surgeries. I was at rock bottom because of injuries sustained in a IED blast in Iraq, and Tee it up for the Troops gave me words of inspiration and support. Golf and Tee it up for the Troops has opened the door to the many possibilities before me, and it has given me a greater appreciation and zest for life and purpose as to what I should do with the time have left on this earth to help my fellow soldiers and veterans. So to you James Ball, and Tee it up for the Troops, thanks for a helping hand in the midst of our troubled times.”
I have heard dozens of stories over the years just like this – stories of young men and women who had been so terribly injured that they’d lost all hope of ever experiencing life as they once knew it. It may seem difficult to believe, but a simple game of golf has made such a huge difference to so many. And the money that has been raised, did I mention over $4 million dollars in just seven years? All because of the request of one young soldier to his dad. “Dad, help the soldiers and their families back home,” and the dad who had a heart for the mission set before him and the gumption to make it a reality.
TEE IT UP FOR THE TROOPS, INC. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Their mission is to honor, respect and remember the service of those who have given so freely to protect our great nation. TIUFTT raises monetary support for the needs of veterans and their families through events at both private and public golf courses, stand-alone fundraising events, sponsorships and direct donations. It is with these funds that the organization is committed to assisting those who have served us so well.
For more information, contact 952-646-2490, or go online to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tee it up for the Troops has been able to make a huge difference in the lives of many veterans and their families because of support from the American public. Golfers, sponsors, and citizens across the country have “stepped up to the tee” to say “thank you” to the members of the US Armed Forces and their families.