WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV (WVNS) – The Veteran Golfers Association was founded in 2014 by a group of Veterans who met at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. They each sustained some injuries during their respective deployments and golf was a therapeutic way for them to bond with each other, while recovering from their service.
The transition from active duty to civilian life can be really hard on some veterans, and the VGA is here to provide support, and maybe a relaxing few hours on the course with some new friends.
“Anyone who has been in combat and goes through fire fights or indirect fire or any of that stuff, there’s an adrenaline rush that goes with that,” said Anthony Bilich, the 2019 Wounded Veterans Champion. “I think, when you come back home, a lot of veterans, including myself, struggle to feel that again. Golf is a way where I can just relax and not think about work or anything, just go make some swings, hopefully they’re good, and check out for a few hours.”
Now in its fifth year, the organization is made up of over 7,000 members from all different ages, races, and military ranks. Every year, they compete for a National Championship. The 2019 Championship was held on The Old White TPC at The Greenbrier.
President and CEO of the VGA, Josh Peyton, said they started the Veteran Golfers Association to help veterans deal with post-deployment and have an outlet.
“The spirit of this organization is more about camaraderie, to get people out, especially the veterans that might be struggling, to get them out on the golf course, meet some new friends,” Peyton said. “One of the biggest statistics that I am proud of, is over the last 5 years, we haven’t lost one VGA member to suicide, and the national rate is 22 veteran suicides per day, so we’re very proud of that.”
2019 National Championship Results (Flight A):
- Colter Kautzmann – CW2 – U.S. Army
- Brian Blalock – PO2 – U.S. Navy
2019 National Championship Results (Wounded Vets):
- Anthony Bilich – SPC – U.S. Army
- Todd Adams – SGM – U.S. Army
2019 National Championship Results (Women’s Division):
- Laurel Gill – LT – U.S. Navy
- Angela Baskette – LT – U.S. Navy
Colter Kautzmann was invited to compete in the 2020 Military Tribute at The Greenbrier in September following his victory.