Some 35 amputee Veterans pummeled 16,000 golf balls Wednesday as they tried a new sport and enjoyed a lot of camaraderie.
The Veterans participated in the First Swing Golf Clinic, sponsored by the Philadelphia VA Medical Center and VA Healthcare – VISN4. The clinic took place at the Indian Spring Country Club.
The clinic provides a rehabilitative activity and an opportunity to learn the game of golf or perfect old skills as well as network with other Veterans facing similar issues. Not to mention, as OEF Veteran Miles Kamson points out, have fun.
“I never knew golf was so fun,” said Mr. Kamson.
Before the clinic, Mr. Kamson never held a golf club. A current Army National Guardsman, played football, track and other sports in high school but since his injury in June of 2009, he has been unable to participate. “I haven’t been active lately and sports were my life – my freedom.”
“I tried to introduce myself to different activities, but I had a block, like ‘I can’t do that.’” By the end of the golf clinic, Mr. Kamson had a different outlook. “What else can I do? I want to try the batting cage. I want to see my limitations – and then push them.”
The golf clinic is one example of the progressive and sophisticated rehabilitative care provided by the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. Bethany Purdue, recreation therapist, coordinated the details to make this year’s event a success.
“We’re expanding the walls of the physical therapy gym,” said Ms. Purdue. “Our goal at VA is to provide a comprehensive rehabilitation plan, and we strongly encourage participation in adaptive sports.”
Veteran Pisey Tan attests, “It is serious PT – the next day your back hurts and your shoulders hurt.”
In addition to the physical benefit, the golf clinic offers the opportunity for social and mental growth as well. Four-time participant, Eugene Burroughs is encouraging other Vets to join in. “I brought a friend who has an amputation. I wanted him to be here and feel comfortable with the other amputee Vets.”
The first golf clinic was held in 2008 and has now grown to include two annual events: the First Swing clinic for basic skills and the Next Step clinic, a 9-hole scramble. Mr. Kamson plans to attend the Next Step clinic in September and take home the coveted trophy.