Veterans Experiencing Life Again Through Golf - VA Northern California Health Care System
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Veterans Experiencing Life Again Through Golf

PGA Hope Tour

PGA Hope Tour

Friday, May 19, 2017

Veterans Experiencing Life Again Through Golf

For Veterans in Northern California, going once a week to play golf with other Veterans battling post-traumatic stress disorder and other health concerns can provide much-needed relief.

Sam Rocci, an Army Vietnam Veteran, has macular degeneration and has undergone many knee replacements, as well as open heart surgery. He said this is the best thing that has happened to him in a while. "I was hanging around my house, not doing a lot, and then one of my friends invited me to play golf through this program," said Rocci. "The VA has saved my life many times, but this program gives me an opportunity to experience that new life again."

Rocci said he looks forward to his son picking him up and playing golf regularly. "Even though I am not good at golf, it got me out of the house spending time with my son and my friends. Before we even start to play, we are out there drinking coffee, sharing war stories, laughing, and forgetting about our problems. I never knew how good this would be for me." It is through partnerships like this that Veterans do not have to feel so isolated. PGA HOPE (Professional Golfers Association Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) is a specialized therapeutic golf program designed to change Veterans' daily routine and create camaraderie with other Veterans through the social interaction of golf.

"This program is fantastic for our Veterans," said Maria Miller-Carelock, site manager for VA outpatient clinics in Fairfield and Mare Island. "When you think of golf you do not think of rehabilitation, but when you see the players and Veterans outside playing, you see it is the social interaction and the Veterans' ability to take a break from their thoughts and focus on something positive that aids in their healing process." PGA HOPE is a two-step program, beginning with an introductory "Down Range Clinic." There are currently 50 programs nationwide, and VA Northern California Health Care System is a participant.

"As many Veterans struggle with the transition back into civilian life, the game of golf delivers camaraderie and a new level of enjoyment that provides them with hope," said PGA President Derek Sprague. "We are thrilled to collaborate with VA to offer PGA HOPE programming nationwide, as the PGA of America is committed to making a more meaningful impact on the lives of America’s Veterans."

"The most important shot in golf is the next one." – Ben Hogan

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