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My story originally appears on PGA.com on 7/23/22
Many have heard of PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere), but what exactly is PGA HOPE and what is its mission?
PGA HOPE is the flagship military program of PGA REACH.
The charitable foundation of the PGA of America, PGA REACH, has a mission to positively impact the lives of youth, military, and diverse populations by enabling access to PGA Professionals, PGA Sections, and the game of golf. The mission of PGA HOPE is to introduce golf to Veterans and Active Duty Military in order to enhance their physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being.
“The PGA HOPE program has meant a lot to me in that it fosters an environment of safety, trust, and genuine support for the overall wellness of the veteran community. Nowhere else have I been able to feel comfortable and completely welcome given the challenges I had integrating back into society after leaving the Marine Corps with multiple combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. The environment that PGA HOPE creates for veterans saved me from a dark place I was stuck in; attributable to the Staff and PGA Professionals authenticity, the lessons learned about the game of golf that parallel life’s challenges, and the culture of camaraderie amongst all the veterans participating. It’s all been a breath of fresh air.” explains Will Stockholm, a PGA HOPE alumnus.
The program introduces the game of golf through a 6–8-week curriculum, taught by PGA Professionals trained in adaptive golf and military cultural competency. All programs are funded by PGA REACH and supplemented by PGA Section Foundations, so the cost of programming is free to all Veterans.
There are currently 215 PGA HOPE programs across the country, hosted in 40 participating PGA Sections in 46 states. Over 7,000 veterans will be impacted by PGA HOPE in 2022.
PGA HOPE has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which enables any VA staff member to refer Veterans to the PGA HOPE program as a form of therapy. Through a robust program strategy, PGA HOPE aspires to create a physically and emotionally healthier Veteran community that also benefits from the camaraderie built through grassroots level programs.
“PGA HOPE’s mission is to introduce golf to Veterans and Active-Duty Military to support their social, emotional, mental, and physical well-being. While we use golf as the therapeutic mechanism, service members come to us seeking a myriad of benefits that the game provides. Most of all they seek the benefit of a community of others on a similar journey. If we keep that at the top of mind, our program can grow and deepen its impact for decades to come,” said Brandy Cain, PGA HOPE Program Lead, PGA Headquarters.
Recently, PGA Professional Charlie Mead started a PGA HOPE Chapter in Citrus County, FL. He had the following to share:
“The PGA HOPE program is the greatest program that the PGA has ever conducted, and it means that PGA members including myself have an opportunity to give back to the men and women of the United States Military who decided to put their lives on the line to defend our freedom and allow us to have the privilege of being involved in the game of Golf. I speak out of experience because our son Caleb Meade was a US Navy Corpsman for 10 years and deployed into combat in Iraq. His time served has motivated me to get involved and to give back.”
PGA members looking to get involved in PGA HOPE must first receive PGA HOPE training to ensure knowledge of adaptive golf techniques and military cultural competency to ensure every Veteran’s abilities are met. Upon completion of the training session, the member would then coordinate with their Section about getting involved in PGA HOPE in a manner that works best for the Section.
Veterans who are interested in joining PGA HOPE can find their nearest program chapter by CLICKING HERE.