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Wounded Warrior Project Gets Veterans Out of Isolation with Golf

Wounded Warrior Project Gets Veterans Out of Isolation with Golf

When professional golfer Jim Furyk offers golf tips, you listen — even if you are a 5-year-old. Army Reserve veteran Graham Dunn’s youngest daughter, along with the rest of the family, had the chance to learn from the golf great recently at an event with Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) and the U.S. Navy at Naval Station Mayport in Florida.

“Jim Furyk took time to help my two boys and my daughter,” Graham said. “My whole family had a blast together.”

Furyk has been a professional golfer for nearly 30 years. He reached No. 1 in the PGA golf FedExCup standing in 2010. He also hosts an annual golf tournament in Jacksonville, Florida and started the Furyk Foundation with his wife, Tabitha.

WWP understands the importance of getting wounded veterans out of isolation and connecting them with family and other warriors. In WWP’s Annual Warrior Survey, 2 in 3 warriors served by WWP reported feeling lonely.

But it is not just inviting a warrior out of the house. WWP plans fun, engaging events that meet the warrior where they are in life. In Graham’s case, it is with golf.

Though Graham never expected it to involve a professional golfer.

“That Jim Furyk took time out of his day to share his expertise is greatly appreciated.”

Graham first tried golf two years ago at the suggestion of a WWP teammate.

“Wounded Warrior Project invited me to a beginner golf seminar,” Graham said. “It got me to experience something new and experience it with fellow veterans. I have been playing ever since.”

Graham did not get involved with WWP until nearly six years after ending a lengthy military career. His first event, naturally, was a golf clinic in Northeast Florida. Since then, Graham has enjoyed stand-up paddleboarding with other veterans, building remote-controlled cars with his sons, and a family Halloween block party at WWP headquarters, among other events with the veterans’ charity.

But golf has been a constant, with nearly a dozen golf outings in less than three years. Graham has also connected with a WWP Peer Support Group to spend even more time with fellow veterans.

Camaraderie and Collaboration

Bringing veterans together is part of the healing process after service. The camaraderie these men and women had in the military can also be rekindled in the civilian world.

WWP Peer Support Groups are a big part of that effort. WWP trains wounded warriors to lead these groups across the country, from Alaska and Hawaii to Puerto Rico. WWP helped establish more than 100 of these groups to reach more veteran families.

“Gatherings hosted for veterans, by veterans, that is how Wounded Warrior Project Peer Support Groups bring veterans together in a comfortable setting,” said WWP Chief Program Officer Jennifer Silva. “Knowing you are not alone is powerful.”

These peer groups meet in person or virtually every month. Warriors share challenges and successes while providing support for each other. WWP has coed and female-specific peer groups to ensure the proper support. Sometimes the groups meet for dinner or a fun event. Sometimes, they just meet to talk. These groups also have a WWP teammate available to provide additional help, as needed.

“Peer leaders set such a great example for their fellow warriors,” Jennifer said. “They serve their veteran communities and ask little in return.”

WWP also collaborates with many organizations to deliver lifesaving programs and services free of charge. Collaboration helps reach more veteran families and increases support. To enhance golf opportunities, WWP works with many groups, including PGA Tour Academy, World Golf Village, and the Zellner Foundation, which has helped supply wounded veterans and their families with golf clubs and lessons.

Support Before the Tee

You want to hit the green on a golf course in as few shots as possible to keep your score down. That takes repetition and effort to improve your ability, and sometimes, a little help. WWP wants to ensure a veteran’s support starts long before they tee up. WWP programs in mental and brain health, financial wellness, connection, and long-term rehabilitative care improve lives. If a warrior or spouse needs help finding the right civilian career, WWP can help. Want to get back in shape? WWP physical health and wellness programs provide the coaching. Want to talk through challenges? WWP Talk provides telephonic support.

Want to improve that opening drive to reach the green quicker? WWP can help with that, too. All while bringing wounded veterans and families closer together. To register or learn more about the organization, go to woundedwarriorproject.org/enjoylife.

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