Ill and injured veterans “soldier on” with golf and fellow vets

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Howard Glassman, my co-host on our Swing Thoughts podcast, and I are proud to be playing in the Soldier On to St. Andrews golf tournament at Beacon Hall Golf Club on Monday, June 6. My story tells why it’s so important. Please share it. And media people–tell it!

When retired Canadian soldier Chris Charron spilled coffee on his pants while driving to a Golf Camp for veterans last summer, he thought it was the excuse he needed to turn around and go home.

But he realized the importance of “just getting there” and attended the PGA of Canada partnered “Soldier On” National Golf Camp around Toronto-area courses that culminated in the “Soldier On to St. Andrews” Golf Tournament at Beacon Hall Golf Club in Aurora, Ontario.

In conjunction with a program called the St. Andrews Legacy, the “Soldier On” Golf Camps and Beacon Hall event helps ill-and-injured Canadian soldiers coming back from tours-of-duty to use sport in their recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration while capitalizing on the camaraderie of being with fellow veterans and people who support them.

With this year’s third edition of the “Soldier On” fundraising Golf Tournament set for June 6 at Beacon Hall, Charron said the “amazing” event can be life changing for the 18 ill-or-injured Canadian veterans who will attend.

“I can’t explain how important that day was for me at Beacon Hall,” said Charron, who retired in 2010 after he was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following a 20-year career in the military that included three tours of duty in the former Yugoslavia between 1993-2000.

“If it wasn’t for this program, I wouldn’t have made the progress that I’ve made,” said Charron, 45, a retired Warrant Officer who now lives near London, Ontario.

Before being invited to the “Soldier-On” Golf Camp—part of a Canada-wide network of Soldier On events—Charron had stopped seeing friends and going to his health appointments. Like many veterans struggling psychologically, Charron was isolating himself and suffering in silence.

“Soldier On” was created to help motivate and inspire veterans to regain their confidence and rebuild their lives through sport and physical activities that promote connection and active lifestyles. It’s hoped that the program can stem the tide of suicides among veterans. A recent Globe and Mail article said that 62 Canadian soldiers and veterans had taken their lives since returning from Afghanistan.

“As a veteran, if you can just get to a ‘Soldier On’ event, it’s amazing where it will lead you,” said the divorced father of two adult children. “I found out that I’m not alone.”

For Charron, it not only led to new friendships with other veterans and all kinds of people, but he also started seeing his health professionals again and began working with a PTSD peer-support network.

“That Camp and the day at Beacon Hall were a catalyst for me breaking through some obstacles with my injury,” said Charron, who has become a certified golf instructor who coaches veterans. “I started dealing with my health again and finding joy in developing a productive second chapter of my life.”

All proceeds from the Beacon Hall Tournament go towards golf initiatives such as funding regional “Soldier On” Golf Camps across the country, and a golf trip of a lifetime for eight Canadian veterans to Scotland this summer. They will play some of Scotland’s most famous St. Andrews Legacy golf courses and finish the trip with a round at the Old Course at St. Andrews as part of the program based in Scotland. One group of soldiers will attend the Open Championship at Royal Troon.

In an emotional address at last year’s Beacon Hall event, Charron told his colleagues that he looked for excuses not to come, but “I realized that I needed the guys on this trip with me.”

And Charron’s friends, family, and all Canadians need him and his fellow veterans who have supported our country to truly soldier on.

 

About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf and life coach, an award-winning writer, Head Coach of the University of Guelph golf team and Mental Performance Coach at the ClubLink Academy at Glen Abbey. He is author of the newly released second edition of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story. He is co-host of the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and a leader in training in the ManKind Project. He gets all excited when he helps people tap into their brilliance.

Comments

  1. I love that you are participating in veterans recovery.
    I am reading a book right now about a veteran that didn’t get help.
    we need to be there for them.

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