Grow Your Business in Northern Virginia with digital marketing services from The W Agency
WASHINGTON — With the help of some special equipment, paralyzed veterans teed up Monday hoping not only for a hole-in-one but also aiming to raise big bucks for a program that helps put veterans back to work.
The Paralyzed Veterans Golf tournament has raised $3.2 million over the past decade for the Paving Access for Veterans Employment, or PAVE, employment program, which assists veterans and their families.
This year’s event, held at The Golf Club in Lansdowne, Virginia, should bring in another $400,000 for the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s veterans hiring program, said Rich Brooks the event founder, who served for 27 years in the Army.
While unemployment for vets is higher than the national average, it’s coming down, he said. For disabled veterans the unemployment picture is even worse, he said.
When the first tournament was held 10 years ago, Brooks said three disabled veterans took part. That’s grown to more than 40 this year.
“That speaks volumes of where we’re going with the game of golf and the adaptability for our veterans and for all disabled folks,” he said.
He said some of the partners in the tournament and other organizations have made adaptable golf clubs and adaptable golf carts for the veterans to be able to get out and play.
“It’s just phenomenal,” Brooks said. “It’s therapeutic and helps veterans get back with their lives.”
For example, Paramobile golf carts enable paralyzed veterans to elevate themselves almost into a standing position to play golf.
“It’s just gives them a new life,” Brooks said.
Brooks said he’s very humbled to be a part of the tournament and to help other veterans. “You know, you just don’t stop serving. That’s what’s so important.”
Veteran Jabara Wright, who uses one of the Paramobile carts, played in the tournament last year and returned this year to raise funds for his fellow veterans.
PAVE not only helps vets find employment but is a life line, he said. After serving eight years in the Army, Wright battled post-traumatic stress disorder and ended up in a wheelchair after an attempted suicide.
PAVE helped him find a job with an IT company, but he said his PAVE counselor, Jim Arndt, is more like a big brother to him.
“You establish like a lifelong relationship,” Wright said. “It’s not just, ‘I get you a position and leave you alone.’ They continuously check on you.”
Arndt added, who said he thinks of Wright as his little brother, said: The nice thing about our program is that once we start working with people we work with them for life.”