County Partners with PGA of WNY, WNY Department of Veterans Affairs to Get Vets Golfing
ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Commissioner of Parks, Recreation & Forestry Troy Schinzel, Director of PGA Charities and Military Liason for the PGA of America Steve Jubb, PGA Western New York Section Executive Director Joe Bertino, Director of the VA of Western New York Healthcare System (“VA”) Brian Stiller, and veterans at Grover Cleveland golf course to present the “PGA H.O.P.E” program that will be taking place at the course over the next five weeks. PGA H.O.P.E., which stands for “Helping Our Patriots Everywhere”, is designed to introduce golf to veterans with disabilities in order to enhance their mental, physical, social and emotional well-being. The PGA Foundation, Regional PGA Sections, and PGA professionals nationwide are working with VA Healthcare Systems to introduce the program on a wider basis.
“I would like to welcome the PGA H.O.P.E. program to Erie County, and thank the PGA and VA for partnering with us to offer our veterans this opportunity to come to Erie County’s Grover Cleveland golf course to advance their rehabilitation,” said Poloncarz. “The time they spend on the course will help them to socialize, heal, and get back into everyday life while developing a love for the game of golf, and we wish them the best as they continue along that path.”
The goal of PGA H.O.P.E. is to introduce golf to male and female veterans with disabilities as an activity to assist them in their progress in rehabilitation, along with helping them to assimilate back into their lives and the community. The PGA of America’s support of the United States military dates back to World War I, and continues today with their commitment to veterans with every form of disability, including concussions, mental health, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”), loss of limbs, Traumatic Brain Injuries (“TBI”), and others.
Steve Jubb added, “As a part of our community outreach for the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester this August, this PGA H.O.P.E. program in Buffalo is designed to use golf as a part of the physical, mental, and social rehabilitation of our Disabled Veterans and Wounded Warriors, and helps them engage within their community. The impact that the game of golf can have on lives, especially our veterans, is truly amazing.”
PGA H.O.P.E. partners with VA Healthcare Systems around the country to bring the program to veterans nationwide. Currently, in addition to the Buffalo/Rochester program, PGA H.O.P.E. programs are ongoing in Atlanta; Battle Creek, Mich.; Charleston, S.C; Los Angeles; Bethesda/Olney, Md.; Fort Belvoir, Va.; Akron, Oh.; St. Louis, Mo.; Seattle/Tacoma, Wash.; and San Antonio, Tx. The program offers a partnership with VA Healthcare Systems’ therapists to address the veteran’s disability, acclimation of the veteran to the sport of golf, and golf instruction, playing opportunities & social events for the participants. Veterans of all abilities, and representing a variety of branches of service and/or eras, have the opportunity to learn the game during the five week session.
“Golf is another sport we can offer to veterans to improve range of motion, strength, and health,” said Pamela Kaznowski, Recreation Therapy Supervisor at VA Western New York Healthcare System. “Participation in recreation therapy activities and adaptive sports improves veterans’ overall quality of life.”
For more information:
On the Erie County Parks Department, visit http://www2.erie.gov/parks/
On the PGA Foundation, visit http://www.pgafoundation.com/
On the WNY PGA Section, visit http://westernnewyork.pga.com/
On the VA Western New York Healthcare System, visit http://www.buffalo.va.gov