BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — September 11 can be triggering for many veterans and active service members and can bring back a lot of traumatic memories. That's why each year, the Copperleaf Golf Club in Bonita Springs partners with Home Base Florida to show their appreciation and support for veterans in Southwest Florida.
Jackie Kay says since she was a little girl, she wanted to learn golf.
"I used to watch it on TV. We only had two channels, so I didn't have a choice, but I grew to love it," she said.
She's an Army Veteran involved in Home Base Florida, a non-profit with the mission of healing invisible wounds of war for veterans, service members, their family members, and families of the fallen.
Kay said when she found out Copperleaf Golf Club in Bonita Springs was giving free golf lessons to veterans with Home Base, it was the perfect opportunity for her to realize her childhood dream. The Copperleaf Charitable Foundation's free golf lessons come ahead of their Veterans Appreciation Golf Tournament on September 9.
“We're so honored and privileged to be able to have this opportunity to be able to teach, and have them have the opportunity to come out, learn a little bit of golf have some fun as part of this program,” Jason Miller, the Director of Golf at Copperleaf Golf Club, said.
Armando Hernandez, the Senior Director of Home Base Florida, said the golf lessons are more than just fun and games.
"It's a lifelong sport. And it's a sport that has such great adaptability that whether you have a bad knee, a bad back, a bad shoulder, or perhaps even an amputation, you can still play and enjoy this game," he said.
He also says golf gives veterans a chance to get out and meet others who have similar past experiences.
"Spending time with other veterans, feeling more comfortable in my skin, too. It's a wonderful way for veterans to build those connections, those relationships," Kay said.
"And golf is also very engaging. We talk a lot about resiliency and what is part of resiliency? That's mindfulness. That's being present and in the moment. When you're out there on the golf course with friends and you're swinging the sticks and you're making putts, you're not thinking about at the stresses of life. You're there, you're present," Hernandez said.
He said this is especially important ahead of September 11.
“It brings back a lot of memories from while we were serving when this happened, and it could bring up some traumatic memories as well. And we know that's the consequence of post traumatic stress, is that there are triggering events. And September 11th can be one of those events for veterans," Hernandez said.
He said the best thing to do is remind veterans that they're not alone; that they have brothers and sisters who know exactly what they're going through. He hopes the golf lessons and this weekend's tournament provide that opportunity.
"Just grow, not only in their game, but just in life and to thrive. It's not good enough for me that U.S. veterans are surviving, I want us to thrive,” Kay said.
Since 2016, the Copperleaf Charitable Foundation has given more than $120,000 to Home Base Florida. The tournament on September 9 will help raise money for programs that support veterans in Southwest Florida.
Home Base Florida works with the David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health, a Your Healthy Family partner.