The PGA Tour’s Birdies for the Brave, according to the website, ” is a military outreach initiative dedicated to supporting the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Since 2005, players and corporate partners have raised millions of dollars for military home front groups that provide critical programs and services to meet the specialized needs of wounded warriors and military families, through fundraising events at TPC clubs nationwide.”
Hey, that’s cool enough but the Travelers Championship being held this week at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn. went two big extra steps more for four wounded Army veterans. At the Media Day in May, they were fitted with Callaway Golf Clubs thanks to a donation from St. Francis Care, a part of St. Francis Hospital in Hartford. Then, all four were given a chance by St. Francis to play in today’s Travelers Championship Pro-Am, with three accepting. Christian Mines, Brian Ohler and Michael Ryan teed it up at 8:30 a.m. with PGA Tour member Tommy Gainey. Sandra Lee, elected not to play.
The injuries the four suffered while in the Army and the lasting effects are gut wrenching.
• Ohler served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He suffered traumatic brain injury as well as injuries to his back neck and right knee. He has four purple hearts. Ohler receives physical therapy treatment at St. Francis Care.
• Lee served in Baghdad, Iraq. She suffers severe post traumatic stress disorder the result of combat exposure and four roadside bombs. She has military sexual trauma and TBI resulting in severe headaches and memory loss. Lee also received injuries to a knee, hip and shoulder.
• Mines served in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. While in Iraq, he suffered three concussions as the result of improvised explosive devices and rocket propelled grenades. He, too, has PTSD.
• Ryan served in Germany, Iraq and Kuwait. He suffers from PTSD and TBI. He also had injuries to his ankle, back and neck.
According to the website, “Birdies for the Brave was originally created by TOUR player Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, to support troops injured during combat. For each birdie or eagle made by Phil throughout the season, a contribution of $100 for a birdie or $500 for an eagle is made to Homes For Our Troops and Special Operations Warrior Foundation.”