Game Changers

Women Veterans Find Healing & Community Through Golf

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For many veterans, PGA HOPE transcends a mere program; it becomes akin to a second family—a family that truly understands their experiences. 
Through all-women PGA HOPE programs, numerous female veterans nationwide are discovering peace, strength, and kinship through golf.
Women’s Veterans Day took place this year on June 12, and it’s an opportunity to honor the selfless and courageous women who have served our nation. Their dedication and sacrifice fuel the mission of PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere), the flagship military initiative of PGA REACH, the 501(c)(3) charitable foundation of the PGA of America. This 6-8 week program, led by PGA of America Golf Professionals, introduces golf to veterans and active-duty military as a means to enhance their physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being.
In an effort to expand the sport among female veterans, PGA HOPE conducts numerous all-women programs in PGA of America Sections nationwide. Currently, there are 12 active programs impacting over 500 female veterans through golf. In addition, female Veterans represent 14 percent of all PGA HOPE programs nationwide. 
Hosting all-women PGA HOPE programs provides significant benefits by creating a supportive and inclusive environment tailored to the unique needs and lived experience of female veterans.
Sheena Prante, a PGA of America Golf Professional, leads one such program in the Pacific Northwest. As a PGA HOPE Certified Instructor, she finds immense reward in supporting and connecting with female veterans.
“Talking to the ladies about their military experiences and the unique challenges they faced as women has been eye-opening,” Sheena explains. “I cherish the opportunity to aid our Veterans by introducing them to golf and helping them find joy in their everyday lives.
“The women feel much more comfortable with golf in this setting — they can ask questions, they become more open and many express a desire to continue playing golf after their initial introduction.”
Many female veterans carry past traumatic experiences that heavily impact their mental and social well-being, often rendering everyday life extraordinarily challenging. Through shared experiences and time spent together on the course, women Veterans in PGA HOPE programs can relate on a deeper level, forming new connections and friendships, gaining mutual support, and fostering a sense of comfort and community.
“I think providing this opportunity for female veterans is crucial,” Sheena says. “The golf world can often feel intimidating, especially since women are usually in the minority. Women-only PGA HOPE programs are vital and offer a fantastic opportunity.”
U.S. Army Veteran Lashunda Lee attests to the transformative impact of PGA HOPE on her life. 
“I've lost many things, including my range of motion, but I've clung to my hope,” she shares. “PGA HOPE melds hope with golf, providing a unique refuge when life becomes tough. Golf is the one thing that diverts my mind from everything else.”
Now an ambassador for PGA HOPE in Northern Ohio, Lashunda is passionate about introducing more women to the program. 
“My goal is to recruit more female veterans to our programs here in Northern Ohio and to help expand the game among women,” Lashunda says.
With over 2 million female Veterans living in the U.S., representing the fastest-growing segment of the veteran population, PGA HOPE remains committed to its mission. The goal is consistent: to support all Veterans on their healing journey by introducing them to golf. This commitment includes motivating and encouraging female Veterans to embrace the sport, thereby enriching their lives through its therapeutic benefits.
While graduation from a PGA HOPE program marks a significant milestone, it merely signifies the beginning of a Veteran’s journey in golf. PGA HOPE strives to demonstrate how golf can serve as a therapeutic activity and a positive means to enhance overall well-being—extending well beyond the program itself.
The first challenge is getting them out there. Many women are reluctant to try golf because of the cost, anxiety, and lack of self-confidence. That’s why PGA of America Golf Professionals like Sara Dickson feel it’s extremely important to spread support and inspire women Veterans everywhere.
Dickson assists PGA of America Golf Professional Heather Angell, who hosts an all-women PGA HOPE program in the South Florida PGA Section, the first of its kind on the West Coast of Florida. Together, they are leading the charge in making golf more accessible for all Veterans, including women. 
“PGA HOPE is an incredible avenue to expose someone to the game of golf who may have otherwise never considered the sport,” shares Dickson.  “It’s inspiring to see how golf initiatives like PGA HOPE can be used to connect with people.”
To learn more about PGA HOPE in your community,  click here to learn more.