Sudbury FORE Wounded Warriors Raises Awareness and Money
What did longtime Sudbury residents, past Sudbury residents, a couple of Boston Bruins with some special surprises and a multitude of corporate and individual donors have in common last week? They all came together to support American troops who return to us with wounds both visible and invisible.
On bucolic Oct. 22, at the lovely Charter Oak Country Club, the second Annual Drive Fore Our Troops was sponsored by Sudbury for Wounded Warriors.
Started last year by Brendan Mahoney and Bob Haarde, Sudbury for Wounded Warriors had their first fund-raising golf tournament last fall. Their goal had been modest: to raise awareness and $5,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). They succeeded in raising about $10,000.
That money went directly to WWP which takes action to honor and empower the American service men and women wounded in service to their country. One part of the program provides backpacks for the wounded when they are far from home, far from their buddies and lying in a hospital bed clad only their hospital ‘johnnies’ and combat boots.
The backpacks contain such needed things as socks, underwear and Under Armour brand tee-shirts, sweatpants and other necessities. Through WWP, the injured are also provided with unique and direct programs and services not otherwise extended to them.
This October, the SWW board expanded to incorporate a total of 10 members with the addition of Adam DeMichele, Ezra Levine, Mark Dence, Rachel Meyer, Steve Brackett, Steve Melz, Todd Faber and Todj Gozdeck. Each has brought different and singular perspectives that have added to the excitement of the day.
At the dinner following the golf outing, speakers enlightened the participants. Sudbury resident, Jake Eckersley, a recently-returned veteran of war, spoke about lying in a hospital bed in Germany, miles from anyone and anywhere he knew, only to find a Wounded Warriors backpack under his hospital cot. He was given a standing ovation for his candor and was welcomed home.
Sergeant Erik Goroshko also spoke, telling his harrowing tale of sacrifice. Suffering from a Traumatic Brain Injury after an encounter with an IED (improvised explosive device), he contemplated the worst for himself when he was told that his life-long dream of a career in the U.S. Army would only occur behind a desk after his cognitive impairment receded and his balance was restored.
His devastation was nearly complete when he thought he should end his life. However, he had numbers to call and help from the Wounded Warrior Project. In his words, “I was scooped up and given the help I needed and still need.” There was not a dry eye in the room when he had finished.
Brigadier General Jack Hammond then gave a talk on the critical work being done by organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project. Complete with a PowerPoint presentation chock full of photographs, he detailed the needs of Americans returned from battle. As Executive Director of the Red Sox Foundation and the Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program in Boston, he outlined the need for aid to men and women coming home.
The most important of those needs is work – jobs for our veterans so that they will be and feel productive again. The General emphasized that the unemployment rate for veterans is 30 percent higher than that of the rest of the population. He also spoke at length about the injuries they suffer – those that are clearly noticeable like the loss of a limb and those that are invisible like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
The General then, recognized Jackie Rosario, Sergeant Goroshko’s other half. She is a retired member of the General’s combat unit. He stated how proud and honored he was to be in such company in attendance and how proud he was that the Sudbury group was doing such good work.
This year, the Sudbury for Wounded Warriors Board along with 20 volunteers set out to further increase awareness of the needs of our wounded warriors and raise more money for WWP. There was a silent and a live auction. A bidding on a foursome with Reggie Lemelin and Hall of Famer, Ray Bourque, was an early auction item.
When he realized he had a family commitment that afternoon, Ray Bourque sent fellow Bruin and Hall of Famer, Brad Park — and Bourque sweetened the bid with an invitation to dinner and tickets to a Bruins game with him. That and a four-day use of a Sunday River ski house and the July Fourth week at a Cape Cod getaway helped raise the proceeds to about $30,000!
This year’s golf sign-up was full weeks in advance. So set your calendars because next year the golf tournament will be on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013.