Rehabilitation Through Golf - How Wounded Soldiers Rebuild Their Lives

There are many reasons we choose to play golf. For some of us, it is just the chance to socialise with friends for a few hours, others have a deep and abiding love of the game, for many, the game is akin to an addiction that needs to be sated. A few of us, however,  play the game in the belief that it may somehow rehabilitate us, and for one group of people in particular this is most certainly the case.

 

Wounded soldiers, who have been injured while in action across the globe, are now benefitting from the rehabilitative effects of golf. In the Washington State, near Seattle, the organizers of the Wounded Veterans Golf Clinic, have quickly realised that golf can play a key role in helping soldiers learn to cope with their injuries.

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The clinic offers free instruction, equipment and the use of their course to allow wounded veterans the chance to play the game. Furthermore, the course is organised and maintained by wounded veterans which means that there is a deeper level of understanding at this course of the particular difficulties that wounded veterans, or any golfer with a physical disability, may face.

As Korean war veteran and Wounded Veterans Golf Clinic organiser Pepper Roberts observed:

“When they come back from being injured, a lot of them [veterans] are very self-conscious about their body. They don’t want to be seen…and this brings them out.”

In the UK, a similar project is now being undertaken by the military. The Battle Back program is aimed at encouraging ex-service personnel who have been injured on service, to participate in a number of different sports “to aid their rehabilitation and return to an active life.”

Earlier this year a Golf 4 Heroes campaign was launched, attempting to get golf courses across the UK to allow wounded veterans the chance to play a round of golf for free at courses across the UK. As of January 2012, 781 golf courses across the UK had agreed to participate in the programme, which sees them offer two complimentary green fees a week to injured ex-service personnel.

 

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So how does the rehabilitation program manifest itself? How does the game of golf help these injured veterans come to terms with their injuries and the effect it has on their everyday life? In short, the benefits come in a variety of forms.

There are physical benefits, the strengthening of core muscles and flexibility to name but two. Being out and about on a golf course also helps build up stamina and helps to fight weight gain. But the benefits are manifestly more than physical.

 
As the Ministry of Defense points out:
When first faced with the reality of a disability, many individuals experience a loss of confidence, depression and believe that their active lives have ended. The sudden, traumatic change in physical ability makes them vulnerable to psychological and emotional stress which can alienate them from their friends and family.”

 

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It is this additional therapeutic benefit that is so important. These programmes for wounded soldiers allow them combat these negative feelings in a positive way. Instead of life being about what they can’t do, golf empowers them to show what they can do. It is this benefit to confidence, self-esteem, morale and positive mental well-being that cannot be overstated.

Quite why golf seems to have such therapeutic benefits cannot be easily identified. There are no scientific studies into this that we are aware of and the medical community has not come forward to support golf as a particularly good activity to promote health and fitness.  Yet, in direct contravention to this, there is evidence that suggests otherwise.

 

wounded-soldiers-golf

 
Certainly, it is heartening to see wounded soldiers being given the chance to play golf and it is delightful to see many people benefit from this in a variety of different ways. It is also encouraging to see increasing numbers of golf courses, manufacturers and personalities supporting these initiatives.

The least that the golfing fraternity can do for those who have served us so bravely and who now have to live with the unfortunate consequences of that, for the rest of their lives.

 

If you are interested in learning more about any of the initiatives above, or would like to share your story, then please feel free to contact us editor[at]gorillagolfblog.com

 

Images by familymwr, The U.S. Army

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