Injured Veterans Hone Skills in Recovery Through Sport programs with the Help of the Pros
SILVER SPRING, MD (June 16, 2016) This week, Team Semper Fi is proud to announce a new Recovery Through Sport partnership with Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA) helping injured veterans on their road to recovery and reintegration into their communities. The two organizations are teaming up to offer specialized instruction from golf professionals across the country, helping participants take their game and their recovery to the next level.
Equal parts physical and mental challenge, the “Greatest Game Ever Played” requires skills that are as valuable off as they are on the course, improving strength and dexterity as well as focus, and discipline.
SMGA was founded ten years ago to offer specialized golf programs as a recreational part of the recovery from war to post-9/11 veterans. Starting from a single location, it soon became apparent that service members all over the country could benefit from their programs, and the organization quickly expanded to accommodate. Today, SMGA has helped over 2,000 veterans and offer more than 80 golf clinics every year.
Team Semper Fi, the athletics program of the Semper Fi Fund, believes in “Recovery Through Sport” and the benefits integrative medicine and non-pharmacological programs provide recovering service members. The program has helped over 1,500 injured service members enjoy, engage, learn, develop and excel in many sports along with their colleagues. Golf programming was added to Team Semper Fi in 2014 and has since aided over 140 service members in their recovery on the links and beyond.
“This partnership is so impactful because it provides a comprehensive tiered growth platform for post-9/11 injured and ill service members through the game of golf,” said Casey Fisher, Senior Manager, Team Semper Fi. “Partnering with Salute Military Golf Association will raise the standard in the Veteran Service Organization and golf communities to new heights and provide our wounded, critically ill and injured an opportunity for recovery through golf for a lifetime.”
“Golf as a part of Recovery Through Sport has had a proven impact on wounded and injured veterans; 92% of veterans who have gone through an SMGA program say it has helped with their PTSD,” said Dan Pflieger, Executive Director, SMGA. “The SMGA looks forward to offering our adaptive golf curriculum to Team Semper Fi athletes along with already-proven golf Semper Fi Fund programs to further extend our support for wounded and injured veterans.”
For service members like Martin “Marty” Caraway, golf has been nothing short of a lifesaver. Following two deployments to Iraq, Marty was diagnosed with TBI and PTSD that resulted in him having a heart attack shortly after his return. Aside from a job as a caddy, he had never really golfed before—but when he returned home from Iraq, it became a priority for him, his “self-medication.” He cobbled together his first set of clubs, buying them one-by-one on eBay, and taught himself to play. Through Team Semper Fi and SMGA, Marty has improved his game by 7 strokes, and has moved that much closer to his goal of golfing competitively.
But at the end of the day, that’s not why he golfs: “When I started to take the game seriously, not just whacking a ball, I realized that golf is everything we've been taught in military; controlling your thoughts and emotions while being courteous to other players. It represents what it means to be upstanding, to have the focus and drive to do well while keeping the people around you in mind and making sure they have the opportunities to succeed.”
The lessons carry over into all aspects of his life: “Golf has made me an all-around better person, even a better father. I’m excited to be home, grab my kids and say let's go to the driving range. I've found something where I'm including my kids in my day and they feel like a part of it. This partnership has given me the ability to do that.” He continues, “I have more confidence, and it’s easier for me to go out into public places where I used to shy away. This has been a game-changer for life, not just on the course.”
About the Semper Fi Fund
The Semper Fi Fund (semperfifund.org), one of the leading veteran nonprofits in the U.S., provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to wounded, critically ill and injured post-9/11 service members and their families. Founded in 2004, the Fund originally focused on Marines, Sailors and their families, and has since expanded to provide assistance to all branches of the military. To date more than 16,200 service members and their families have benefited directly from more than $126 million in assistance from the Semper Fi Fund--one of only three veteran charities to receive an A+ rating from Charity Watch and a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.
The SMGA’s mission is to provide rehabilitative golf programs, experiences, and family inclusive golf opportunities for post 9/11 wounded war veterans in an effort to 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). With programs available nationwide, the SMGA serves thousands of veterans and their families annually. SMGA routinely directs more than 90% of its donations to programming. In SMGA's latest audited financials, 87% of all funds were used to directly support wounded and injured post-9/11 veterans.