FORT BELVOIR, (Virginia) --Wounded Warriors from around the Military District of Washington came to the Fort Belvoir Golf Course Monday to enjoy a day of golf and to relieve themselves from their rigorous daily rouA,Atine of doctor's visits, therapy and life in the barracks.

Monday was the second day of the seminar, with Sunday serving as a trainA,Athe- instructor day. The semiA,Anar travels to Army installations all over the naA,Ation.

First Swing began in 1988 and was developed and founded by Bob Wilson, execA,Autive director of the National Amputee Golf Association and a double below-knee amA,Aputee.

According to the NAGA Web site, the program is deA,Asigned to instruct therapists to teach and encourage the disabled to learn, or re-learn, the game of golf - not only beA,Acause just about every physiA,Acally challenged individual, regardless of age, is able to play, but also because it conA,Atributes dramatically to the individual's emotional and physical well-being, instilling self- confidence and pride in personal achievement.

The NAGA sponsors each seminar along with the Professional Golf Association, United States Golf Association and the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Trust.

'The one thing I like about it, being a disabled person myself, is its an outdoor acA,Ativity that provides in a sense physical therapy,' Wilson said. 'We kind of refer to it as recreA,Aational rehab, but by the same token, it depends whether or not they want to make it a lifelong passion like I have. We are in a sense getting their feet wet with it and we want to give them a good test of it.' Staff Sgt. GaborNapisa wounded warrior at Dewitt Army Hospital and he expeA,Arienced hitting a golf ball for the first time Monday.

'I have really enjoyed the experience so far,' Nap said. 'At first it was difficult for me, but after awhile I learned it is similar to other sports in that you have to keep your eye on the ball and Line up correctly.' Sgt. 1st Class Fredrick Rowell is also at Dewitt Hospital and he also enjoyed the experience.

'For the first time, I really like it. I think I am going to try and stick with it,' Rowell said. 'It allows me to just get out and exercise. Get away from the daily doctor routine and provides a little relaxA,Aation.' As a physical therapist at Dewitt, Capt. Michael Winters hopes to institute a program on a weekly basis that would allow Soldiers who volunteer, to learn more about the game of golf.

'From a physical therapist standpoint, this is recreA,Aational and the whole reason for physical therapy is to get you back doing things you enA,Ajoy doing,' Winters said. 'This incorporates it all: the walkA,Aing, the balance, the shoulA,Aders, the swing, and the fun of putting it all together.

'And, of course, the social aspect of it. If you take a Soldier who may spend a morning or afternoon in the barracks as opposed to out here, then there is no contest,' Winters said.
Fort Belvoir Director of Golf JeffLychwick echoed the wish to continue the First Swing initiative on a permaA,Anent and weekly basis.

'Our motivation is to work with Dewitt Army Hospital and to help on a therapeutic basis,' Lychwick said. 'We would like to implement an ongoing scheduled clinic for them and it is my underA,Astanding that there is going to be as many as 600 amputees and disabled type veterans coming to Fort Belvoir.

'When considering impleA,Amenting this clinic we will need to purchase specific training aids that would help us coach and instruct them and that would allow us to give them additional assisA,Atance to do what they want to,' Lychwick said. 'There are specialty clubs made for these folks, elastic bands to help keep their hands on the clubs and specialty carts allowing them to play from the cart. We would have to get that equipA,Ament to set this program up.'

Page last updated Fri March 27th, 2009 at 09:16