Reporting Bill Hudson
OAK GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) — Standing outside the Refuge Golf Course clubhouse, tournament director Bob Whitcraft explains a lofty goal for the fifth annual Wounded Warrior charity golf event.
“Our goal is to raise $45,000 today,” Whitcraft said.
And with every drive off a tee, or every putt on a green, 144 charity golfers are helping disabled vets like Patrick, Chad and Erik.
The three men are U.S. military veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and are struggling with serious injuries incurred both in wartime and at home.
“It’s hard to adjust and get back into a normal life,” said Patrick Sanders.
After a veteran sacrifices through service to their country, the mental and physical scars incurred during wartime can often make returning to civilian life a new kind of battle.
For many, it’s the adjustment to productive employment. But for thousands of other wounded veterans there is the physical challenge posed by missing limbs, traumatic brain injuries and other serious battlefield injuries.
“We have over 731 seriously wounded from Minnesota,” Whitcraft said.
And that’s where the Minnesota chapter of the Wounded Warrior project comes in. This marks the fifth year the nonprofit organization has help an annual golf outing to help raise badly needed funding.
“It’s getting them back into civilian life, back into the workplace, to be a productive and a well-adjusted citizen,” Whitcraft said.
Money raised by this benefit will help pay for veteran job training, service animals for the physically impaired or even someone to bring them on casual outings.
To Afghanistan war veteran, Erik Olson, Wounded Warrior covers many of the basic needs the Veteran’s Administration doesn’t.
“Vets like myself who can’t get out and do activities like golf on their own,” Olson said. “It gives us the opportunity to get out and enjoy things we used to enjoy, prior to being injured.”
Golf tournament entry fees, raffles and live and silent auction items will all contribute dollars to fund the ongoing mission. Giving back to the veterans who preserved the world’s freedoms with their own flesh.
When asked how he was hitting the ball, Wounded Warrior Chad Lofgren smiled and said, “Well, the water’s a good place to be I guess.”
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