A chance encounter between a physical therapist and a new patient in 2006 developed into a friendship and later paved the way for the inaugural Warrior Classic Golf Tournament, benefitting the Wounded Warriors Project and Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba (SUDS).
The event was Friday afternoon at the Cherokee Rose Golf Club in Hinesville and sponsored by Spine & Sport.
Eric Bull, CEO of Spine & Sport said he met J. D. Greer back in 2006 when the medically retired Army major came to his Savannah clinic for therapy after losing his right hand to an improvised explosive device, or IED, while deployed in Iraq.
As the two became close friends Bull became inspired by Greer’s devotion to help others in SUDS and the WWP and decided a golf tournament would be a great way to give back to the soldiers.
“We’ve always been very passionate about helping our soldiers,” Bull said adding that the tournament was a wonderful way to support the military and those fighting for our freedom.
Jacques Beauchamp, president of Spine & Sport, added they want to make the tournament an annual event.
“We want this to be a growing charity event,” Beauchamp said. “Our goal will be to have a $7,000 to $10,000 check from the event and that can do a lot of good.”
A lot of good is what Bull said he sees as a result of physical therapy, especially in the military community.
“Our military, we send them overseas and they work pretty hard over there, they come back, and sometimes, like a piece of equipment, they’re battered and broken,” Bull said. “Physical therapy is the tool that helps guys to get back to that pain-free lifestyle that they had. It’s all about helping your body regain its lost function.”
Few agree with that more than Greer.
“I first heard of the Wounded Warrior Program when I was recovering at Walter Reed. I lost my hand in a roadside bomb,” Greer said, adding that he was protecting an American Ambassador when he got hurt.
Greer was in the Fifth Special Forces Group, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment from Third Battalion and retired from the Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg.
“Now, I’m a full time volunteer for the Wounded Warriors Project and also for the physical rehabilitation Scuba Program out at Walter Reed… called Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scubas (SUDS),” Greer said.
Greer said the WWP and SUDS have changed his life.
“It restored a lot of the confidence. I was a diver before,” he said. “It takes you in a different atmosphere, it teaches you to focus real finitely.”
Greer is now a peer-mentor and has witnessed what SUDS has done for other disabled divers.
“They take us some place for a week that is really cool, all expenses paid and everyone one I’ve been on has just been a really interesting experience because you see people change just within a few days… A real positive change.”
Greer said he was happy to help with the golf tournament knowing the funds are going to help two organizations that have minimal administrative costs, which means most of the funds go toward service programs.
As for golf, Greer said he was just learning to play before his injury.
“I do have an attachment for it but because I don’t have any discs between L4 and L5 I can’t do any really big swings. My short game is good,” he said with a laugh.
He added the golf tournament is another way to get the word out about WWP.
“The WWP Outreach program…there are about 45,000 to 47,000 people that were medivac’d from both theaters of war and I think we’ve been only able to capture about 10,000 to 12,000 of those people, identifying them as wounded warriors and telling them these are the things we have available,” he said.
Golf is a good way to get wounded warriors physically active again, proponents say.
“We like the active component of golf, especially as it relates to physical therapy,” Beauchamp said.
“Physical therapy can get these guys from where they are at now to being the soldier that they really want to be,” Bull added.
The tournament had a mix of able and disabled players that were ready to tackle the green and enjoy the sun. The tournament lasted for most of the day and the Courier will post the results once they become available.
For more information about the Wounded Warriors Project visit: http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/
For more information on SUDS visit: http://sudsdiving.org/
For information and locations of Spine & Sport visit: http://www.spinesport.org/