Thanks to support from Tee It Up for the Troops, Project Sanctuary is able to provide new growth that will impact military families both now and for generations to come.

The Road to Independence (submitted by Project Sanctuary).

Not an hour goes by for Jim* without reliving the horrors of that day. One moment he was on a fairly typical mission in Iraq. The next he lay trying to clear the dust from his eyes and inventory the full extent of his injuries.

The months that followed seemed like a series of snapshots —each one building upon the last to ensure Jim’s survival. Doctors had prepared him that his odds for walking again were slim to none. His wife, Shannon, and their three young children remained by his side through it all.

After three surgeries, recovery became Jim’s new mission and perhaps the most grueling of all, with hours upon hours of therapy, trying to make his body move as it had before. Post-traumatic stress and a traumatic brain injury induced nightmares, flashbacks and migraines.

Jim often found it ironic that the virtues of freedom and independence for which he had fought in Iraq became the same virtues he was now fighting for within himself.

The stress of recovery, on top of lives interrupted by combat deployments, began to take its toll on Jim, Shannon and their children. A friend of Shannon’s told her about Project Sanctuary and recommended that she submit a family application. Jim wasn’t so sure.

Like Jim, many service members are apprehensive about what to expect at Project Sanctuary. Trust doesn’t come easily with combat veterans. In the end, though, they all seek change, overcoming apprehensions with the hope of starting anew.

At Project Sanctuary, we alleviate those apprehensions, creating a place where every member of the family can truly thrive. In this environment, relationships are renewed, memories are made, and tools are provided for empowerment. And with at least two years of follow-up support post retreat, families have a partnership they can depend on, even when times get tough.

“We were on a hike, surrounded by warriors with a variety of injuries, even amputations. I think being with them gave Jim the confidence to put himself out there. You could just see from that moment on that he refused to let either his physical limitations or his PTSD define him.”From the moment Jim, Shannon and their three children arrived at their retreat, they felt welcomed, accommodated and safe. By day two, retreat administrator Neil recalls that Jim truly began to let his guard down.

Jim took part in zip lining and rock climbing, and even left his cane lying next to a log during one of the activities, walking on his own.

“There was a point about halfway through the week when Jim said he wasn’t ready for the retreat to end,” recalls Shannon. “He was looking forward to seeing and talking to people each day.”

At Project Sanctuary, Jim and his family gained the courage to try new things, make new connections and trust once again — changes that will allow them to reach new heights together. Thanks to support from Tee It Up for the Troops, Project Sanctuary is able to activate that change, providing new growth that will impact families both now and for generations to come.

Jim now knows that he’ll one day be able to walk his little girls down the aisle. 1,900 families just like Jim’s are currently on our wait list after taking the first step — reaching out for help. Through generous, ongoing support from Tee It Up for the Troops, you assure them they are heard and they are honored.

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the family.

“I believe my song gives them a better understanding of what I went through when I was deployed.”

On behalf of all of those who “stepped up to the tee” at our 2016 events, we were able to donate over $1,000,000 to veteran support organizations, including a $20,000 donation to CreatiVets! We are proud to support organizations like Creativets who are making a difference in the lives of our American heroes!

Jeremy Durbin, Executive Director of Creativets, said “Your donation has allowed us to provide songwriting sessions and art programming for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. Through these experiences, participants have learned the benefits of using art and music as a form of stress and anxiety relief. They have also created incredible songs and artwork that have enabled them to tell their stories in a way that creates something beautiful from something tragic.”

“Even though my friends and family do not understand what it was like in Iraq, I believe my song gives them a better understanding of what I went through while deployed.” – Veteran Participant, Songwriting Program 

CreatiVets’ mission is to provide disabled veterans with the opportunity to use art, music and creative writing to address the psychological and emotional needs that arise from service-related trauma.  Our goal is to empower veterans with tools they can use for the rest of their lives to combat stress, depression and other side effects of war.

“It’s hard to express in words how I felt after that experience, but I know I let go of something deep and feel that this experience is going to allow me to maintain that positive attitude while giving me the courage to live a meaningful life with my children. ” – Veteran Participant, Art Program

K9s save veterans, making them functional citizens…

We love this letter we received from K9s For Warriors regarding the use of the grant awarded to them by Tee It Up for the Troops!

Dear Mr. Wegscheld & Tee It Up for the Troops,

Thank you so much for your recent grant award. Your grant will help with the continued equipment and building costs of the second kennel, which officially opened in September, 2016. Having this additional kennel vastly increases our service dog training capability, adding 31 new stalls to our campus. Once filled, we will be able to speed up the rate at which we pair warriors and canines, saving the lives of dogs and veterans faster.

Currently, we accommodate 6-8 warriors per class. Our goal for 2017 is to increase class sizes to 10 members, as we try our hardest to fight against the suicide epidemic of post-9/11 heroes. The additional kennel is key to meeting this goal. It allows us to have more dogs available and ready to pair with the warriors who need them most. In 2016, we graduated 72 warrior-canine teams! That indicates a total of 144 lives saved last year, counting just graduates. However, our statistics are even better than that, because we saved a total of 190 dogs! Those that weren’t evaluated as good fits for service work were adopted into homes of eager, dedicated dog lovers.

We are fortunate to hear many touching testimonies from the veterans who get “a new leash on life” from our program. Brad was a member of our November, 2016 class along with his service dog, Bear. We have included his photo as an attachment to this update. Here is his quote describing his newfound hope:

“I tried everything under the sun, from medications to neurological treatments. After going through K9s’ program, I now have peace of mind that my future will be better than my past. K9s saves veterans, making them functional citizens, with the help of an animal that would’ve most likely been euthanized. I now have hope for my life.” – Brad & Bear, November 2016 graduates.

Thank you again for your generosity. We look forward to continuing this partnership to help our military veterans reintegrate into society.
Sincerely,
Rory Diamond,
CEO, K9s For Warriors

Slumberland chooses to partner with Tee It Up for the Troops to show their support of America’s veterans and their families!

“We are so proud to be associated with Tee It Up for the Troops, and look forward to introducing our customer base to your organization. We have heard a lot of positive feedback from our sales associates and other employees about our support for Tee It Up for the Troops as we enter the opening weekend of our Veterans Sale event.”

-Margaret Eggenberger, Content Manager – Marketing at Slumberland Furniture

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“On behalf of the board of directors of Tee It Up for the Troops, please accept my heartfelt gratitude for choosing our organization as Slumberland’s charitable partner during your Veterans Day sales event.   The financial donation and exposure for Tee It Up for the Troops is invaluable to our efforts to help combat-altered veterans.   The most authentic brands are ones that are faithful to something other than just profits.  They have a higher purpose and understand the positive impact they can have on a community. That’s Slumberland. Your company’s people, core values, integrity and compassion define you as company that practices what it preaches.”

-Patrick Klinger, Tee It Up for the Troops Board Directorvet_sale_ppcover

 

Fisher House salutes Tee It Up for the Troops as a top-tier veteran service organization!

Military service members, Veterans and their families are supported by countless organizations who acknowledge their sacrifices. Tee It Up for the Troops is honored to be featured in the Fisher House Patriot magazine as a top-tier veteran service organization! Click here to read the article from The Patriot magazine! fisher-house-tiuftt-article-october-2016

Tee It Up for the Troops not only supports Fisher House Foundation, we also support Fisher Houses at the local level by providing golf carts to be used by those staying at the homes. The golf carts have made a difference to patients and families who may have difficulty walking, or seek protection from inclement weather. The notes we get from the Fisher House managers mean so much knowing we are helping to make these families comfortable!ft-bragg-2

 

 

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!

Anytime Fitness® partners with Tee It Up for the Troops® to assist veterans.

Operation HeartFirst™ will help military vets own and operate their own franchised gyms.

Hastings, Minn. – For the 2nd year in a row, Anytime Fitness is partnering with Tee It Up for the Troops, a national non-profit organization, in an effort to help military veterans open their own gyms and provide additional employment opportunities for fellow veterans.  Dubbed “Operation HeartFirst,” Tee It Up For the Troops will offer a $125,000 grant and a $125,000 loan to a select number of honorably discharged veterans for the purpose of assisting with initial start-up capital to be used for the development of an Anytime Fitness franchise.  Anytime Fitness’ HeartFirst Charitable Foundation™ will provide a grant to Tee It Up for the Troops, which will then offer this opportunity to approved veterans, National Guard members, or reservists, as well as oversee the selection process and management of logistics.

“Operation HeartFirst is our way of saying thank you to all of the fine service men and women who’ve made tremendous sacrifices for our country,” said Dave Mortensen, President of Anytime Fitness, LLC. “Currently, about 10% of our franchisees are military veterans.  We’d like to see that number grow even higher.  Veterans are some of our best and most successful club operators.”

APPLICATION PROCESS

Tee It Up for the Troops will accept online applications from April 1 – May 1, 2016, via http://www.teeitupforthetroops.org/anytime-fitness-veteran-franchise-opportunity/.  Among other key criteria, interested veterans must have “a passion for fitness and community engagement.”

“We are looking for candidates who are eager to help others lead healthier lifestyles and who continue to serve and support the U.S. military and its veterans,” said Tim Wegscheid, President of Tee It Up for the Troops.  “This particular opportunity involves an Anytime Fitness gym to be located in the Columbus, GA area, near Fort Benning.  The selected franchisee will determine the precise location of the gym.”

Anytime Fitness, LLC has also agreed to waive its initial franchise fee and ongoing royalty payments related to this opportunity.  Consideration will be given by the selection committee to veterans with service-related disabilities.

“The unemployment rate for military veterans is significantly higher than the national average,” said Chuck Runyon, CEO of Anytime Fitness, LLC.  “That’s just not right.  Our hope is that Operation HeartFirst will not only help veterans operate their own businesses, but also provide jobs for other vets as club managers and personal trainers – for many years to come.”

The first Operation HeartFirst recipients, Tristan and Hannah Ambrozewski, expect to open their Anytime Fitness gym, near Fort Bragg in Southern Pines, NC, within the next few weeks.  The next Operation HeartFirst recipients will be selected by June 15th with a club opening date expected early next year. Anytime Fitness & Tee It Up for the Troops Partnership
Anytime Fitness Abrowzewski

David Leadbetter and Lydia Ko host clinic at REUNION 2016

Through the fog could be seen nearly 50 veterans, many showing visible signs of injury, some missing an arm, others a leg. With cameras and phones in hand, they gathered around rows of white folding chairs near the end of the range.

They were there to see David Leadbetter and Lydia Ko.

The World No.1 LPGA golfer, Lydia Ko, joined instructor David Leadbetter in leading a clinic for Tee It Up For the Troops, an organization that reconnects soldiers who are wounded, injured, or ill at an annual REUNION event. This year, 45 veterans reunited during the four-day event at, by no coincidence, Reunion Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Read more.

Story written by Amy Rogers, LPGA.com

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