By Alia Naffouj and Kristen MarquezJuly 16, 2008
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, July 16, 2008) -- Wounded warriors and congressmen hit the links together Monday at the Army-Navy Country Club for the Congressional Charity Golf Classic.
The golfers were taking part in the tournament to benefit the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project.
The morning began with a clinic by PGA professional Judy Alvarez and a Wounded Warrior demonstration of adaptive equipment.
The 23 teams of four competing in the event had five wounded warriors among the participants.
Julia Ray, Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports project manager of program services, said this experience has an impact because the wounded warriors no longer focus on the things they can't do, but on the things they can. It also helps family members and friends to deal with the changes.
"This tournament is a chance to play after they have completed an eight-week program which we have been doing in partnership with PGA of America," said Ray. "I think that these guys may not have had a lot of experience dealing with disabilities until they were injured themselves.
"What we do is take them out immediately after their injury and show them something that they can do."
One of the wounded warriors participating was retired Lt. Col. Dennis Walburn, who was injured by an improvised explosive device in Mosul, Iraq, in 2005. Walburn said the golfing event gave him the opportunity to support Disabled Sports USA, who supported him when he needed it.
"Disabled Sports has got me up skiing again and taught me how to really play golf, although I'm not showing that much today," Walburn said. "It is a chance for folks to get back into life, especially when you are first hurt and you are worried about your body image, you are worried about your ability to interact with people in public. Events like skiing and golfing get you back. You start chatting with people and you just start having a normal life again."
The golf tournament at Army-Navy Country Club actually traces its beginnings back to 1971, when a tourney began bringing together current and former members of Congress. But this year is the first time it has benefited a charity.
The Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project is a partnership between Disabled Sports USA, its chapters and the Wounded Warrior Project, providing year round sports programs for severely wounded servicemembers from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict and the war on terrorism.