Golf professionals inspire wounded warriors
July 14, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Ladies Professional Golf Association players joined Soldiers of the Warrior Transition Battalion at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center July 5 to share inspirational stories of success through adversity.
Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome and Alison Walshe, who competed in the U.S. Women’s Open Championship at the Broadmoor later in the week, talked about overcoming struggles throughout
their careers and offered advice to the wounded Soldiers on how to succeed after medical setbacks.
“These guys have done so much for our country, they are an inspiration to me,” Lewis said. “It has been a great opportunity to meet them and thank them for what they do.”
A day earlier, Lewis challenged Capt. Jason Mazzella, Staff Sgt. Jason Wilcox and Sgt. Chris Helton, all WTB, to a four-hole golf match at the Broadmoor’s West Course.
“We had a large crowd watching ... it was the perfect day for it, being July 4 and all,” Lewis said.
Wilcox, WTB cadre member, said the team was very nervous at the beginning of the match but relaxed after the first hole.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, not many people can say that they have played with a pro,” Wilcox said. “Lewis’ story is an inspiration to (WTB) Soldiers who have medical problems and think they can’t do much anymore.”
Lewis was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11 and had a rod and five screws placed in her back seven years later.
“I want them to know that they can go out, live a normal life and do whatever they want,” Lewis said after meeting multiple wounded Soldiers at the SFAC.
The warriors and golfers discussed similarities between their careers and becoming successful after adversity through self-motivation and determination.
“Everyone has challenges, it’s just a matter of how you deal with them,” said Lt. Col. Mechelle Tuttle, WTB commander. “After meeting the golfers, I think it helps (the Soldiers) realize that even though their world has changed, it’s not over, there is still a lot they can do.”
As battalion commander, Tuttle tries to motivate her Soldiers to focus on what they can do rather than what they can’t.
“Oftentimes we tend to get a little shortsighted when we are going through medical treatment, which creates a negative cycle. I want to break that cycle. I want us to focus on the positive,” Tuttle said.
This is the same message Lewis, Lincicome and Walshe spoke about during their visit between answering questions about golf and overcoming a male-dominated sport.
This message hits home for Soldiers such as Staff Sgt. Kenneth Sargent whose own personal drive and determination has helped him overcome his combat injuries and return to duty.
“These women never gave up, I am inspired by them,” said Sargent, who has spent his whole enlistment in 3rd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and deployed four times before being assigned to WTB.
“Meeting these women is such a motivator,” Sargent said.
After exchanging inspirational stories, the group watched Col. Jimmie O. Keenan, Medical Department Activity commander, present each golfer and Wilcox with a coin.
The golfers stayed after to take pictures with the Soldiers, socialize in the lobby and play a friendly pingpong.
“Even golf pros like these have adversities to overcome to do what they do,” said Tuttle. “A lot of it is in your head. If you think you can do it, you can. Not to say it’s easy, but you can do it.”
Another LPGA player, Wendy Ward, spent time at Cheyenne Shadows Golf Club July 6 to meet warriors and conduct a question-and-answer session for golf enthusiasts.