PGA HOPE, Turning Stone helps guide the journey home for veterans
Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, went a step beyond serving as host to a dramatic 49th PGA Professional Championship. It became the first national competition site to launch a PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) chapter, offering the inherent social value of the game of golf for Veterans and their families in Central New York.
PGA HOPE is the flagship military program of PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America. PGA HOPE Turning Stone is the 67th overall PGA HOPE chapter nationwide, with the program established in 38 of the 41 PGA Sections.
On June 25, a clinic was conducted on the Atunyote Golf Club practice range with Turning Stone and other Central New York PGA professionals. Their students arrived from surrounding counties, many having joined Clear Path for Veterans, a foundation born in 2010 in Chittenango, New York.
Clear Path bridges the connection between service members and their local community and will team with Turning Stone Resort to help build PGA HOPE classes. Turning Stone’s staff is targeting classes of 24 members who may receive golf instruction year-round, including October through April in the resort’s Golf Dome.
“Since the founding of our country, the Oneida Nation has supported and served alongside the men and women of the U.S. military and we are proud to be able to continue that commitment through our partnership with the PGA HOPE program,” says PGA Professional Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation Representative and Nation Enterprises CEO. “By offering this program, we are able to help Veterans with their rehabilitation and also provide another social avenue for them within the community.”
Among the PGA HOPE attendees at Turning Stone was U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran Glenn Brooks, 69, of Liverpool, who served from 1965-67 at the Battle of Ia Drang Valley. Brooks said he gravitated to golf through his association with Clear Path.
“I began working in the kitchen four years ago and now volunteer as a pastry chef,” said Brooks. “Clear Path helped me along with those who served from World War II through Iraq and Afghanistan get back into society. We now have golf in our lives. We have fun, we laugh and golf can help us.”