Vermont's Wounded Warriors

A public-spirited friend of mine, who had served on numerous town boards and committees recently told me, "the good you try to do doesn't always do you good." I can say that this quote does not apply to the committee that I have the privilege and honor to serve on. The 2013 Vermont Wounded Warrior Golf Tournament Committee is comprised of 15 individuals whose efforts, comradeship, spirit would be the envy of any nonprofit organization. All of the members, save one, served on last year's committee.

The Committee (we are not a nonprofit organization) has a clearly defined mission - to put on a golf tournament and dinner banquet as a way to raise the awareness of the plight of the Vermont Wounded Warrior. The tournament and banquet is scheduled for Sept. 18, 2013 at the Manchester Country Club.

The uniqueness of this event is that only 30 golf foursomes will tee off at noon with the fourth player in each foursome being a Vermont Wounded Warrior. Uniqueness can also be said about the Committee's make up - four members are holders of the Purple Heart - earned in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Working alongside each one, you would never have known about their decoration - they are just that committed to the Committee's mission.

Second only to the Committee members dedication and commitment is that of the business community of Bennington County. Plasan North America will once again be the title sponsor. This well-respected Bennington defense manufacturer is followed by the generous contributions from the Orvis company and Manchester's Express Copy. Dozens of other companies as well as individuals have provided the 2013 tournament with financial, physical and in-kind contributions.

While the mission of the tournament is to raise awareness of the Vermont Wounded Warrior, the financial success of last year's event enabled the Committee to contribute $16,000 to the Vermont Veteran's Home Resident Fund, Rutland's Open Door Mission and the Dodge House, which provide shelter to homeless veterans.

The funds that were given away in 2012 were surely an unplanned but wonderful result of the generosity of the Bennington community. In the event there is a repeat of the outpouring support for the 2013 event, the Bennington Vermont Veteran's Home and the Bennington Veteran's Outreach Program will be this year's recipients.

I would be remiss if I did not mention one other aspect of the tournament for the Wounded Warriors and that is the presence of the USO/Liberty Bells. Many of my generation will recall the Bob Hope's Christmas Tours to the U.S. Military's overseas installations - where he was accompanied by the USO and a large contingent of Hollywood and Broadway stars. We have our own version, albeit a bit smaller. The 2013 Wounded Warrior golf tournament will once again have the USO/Liberty Bells Troop attend and entertain at the golf outing and the evening's banquet.

However, none of the above can take the place of what it is like to spend a day and an evening with 30 young men and women who have given so much of themselves. To witness their spirit places everything else in perspective. All of us will go back to our every day functions. These heroes will as well, with one significant difference. They carry the wounds of war for the rest of their lives. It is the committee's privilege and honor to make this a special day for them.

If you are interested in participating in this years' event - as a sponsor, donor or golfer you may do so by contacting the Manchester Country Club at 802-362-2233.

The tournament's motto "Sacriticium Est Sempre Memorabile - their sacrifice is always remembered" not for a day, but forever.

Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington


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