The VA has joined forces with PGA REACH, the charitable arm of the Professional Golfers Association, to provide a program called PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) to all military veterans.
PGA HOPE uses golf as a therapeutic rehabilitation activity by partnering PGA professionals with physical therapists at local VA hospitals and military bases to introduce veterans to the game, provide instruction, and offer opportunities for the veterans to play. Veterans do not, however, have to be disabled or undergoing treatment in order to participate in the program. It is open to all veterans and their families.
The HOPE program is divided into two parts. The first is the Down Range Clinic, which pairs vets with PGA pros who provide instruction on the game and use of equipment, including adaptive equipment if necessary. The Down Range Clinic is then followed by weekly HOPE sessions for 5-8 weeks.
Participation in the program is totally free for all veterans and their families and is available all year long.
Nearly 1 in 10 veterans are disabled, and PTSD and suicide are major concern among all veterans. Because of this, it is important that veterans receive treatment not just for their physical injuries, but for their mental health as well. The HOPE program uses golf not only for rehabilitation but also to help veterans transition back into their families and societies through social interaction, activity, and competitions.
There are currently 50 HOPE programs in 20 states, serving more than 2000 veterans. The goal is to have programs in every state by the end of 2016. For more information on PGA HOPE, please visit www.pgareach.com/military/.