As a military veteran, I have always been aware of the importance of mental health. The trauma of combat, the stresses of deployment, and the challenges of reintegration can all take a toll on a person’s mental well-being. Fortunately, I have found a unique way to improve my mental health and reconnect with my military buddies through golf.
Last year, I participated in PGA HOPE at Meadowlark Hills Golf Course in Kearney, Nebraska. PGA HOPE stands for Helping Our Patriots Everywhere, and it is a program designed to introduce golf to military veterans as a form of therapy. I learned golf fundamentals and techniques through PGA HOPE while connecting with other veterans who shared similar experiences.
What I appreciated most about PGA HOPE was the supportive environment it provided. The instructors were patient and understanding, and the camaraderie among the participants was palpable. I felt like I was part of a team again, and that was a feeling I had missed since leaving the military.
But the benefits of PGA HOPE extend beyond just social connections. Golf is an excellent form of physical and mental therapy—the focus and concentration required to play golf help clear the mind of distractions and negative thoughts. The exercise involved in playing golf also releases endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce stress.
I improved my golf skills through PGA HOPE and found a renewed sense of purpose and meaning in life. I was reminded of the importance of self-care and the power of connection. And most importantly, I was able to reconnect with military buddies who understood the unique challenges of life after service.
Golf may not be the first thing many think of, but it has proven an effective tool for veterans. If you are struggling with mental health, I encourage you to try golf. If you are lucky enough to live near Kearney, sign up for PGA HOPE at Meadowlark Hills Golf Course. You won’t regret it.
Moises Montalvo, U.S. Army Veteran
PGA REACH Nebraska’s programming schedule for 2023 PGA HOPE is set and registration is open for all Spring & Fall sessions. Click HERE to learn more.