Event partnering golf pros and real-life heroes

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Morgan Chesky - bio | email | Twitter
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email | Twitter

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The Wounded Warriors are the men and women who carry the physical and mental scars of war. Some recover, and return later. Others are brought home for good. Some of both were in East Texas Monday for a golf tournament.

Injuries have changed how many swing a club, but it was more about brotherhood than birdies in Tyler.

They fought for the flag in distant lands. The price they paid is plain to see. Their stories are hard to hear.

"I was hit in a rocket attack in 2004," said retired Marine Chief Warrant Officer Chris Hedgcorth.

"Got thrown in the back of the vehicle and ruptured two disks in my back," said retired Marine Sergeant Jon Lujan.

They are the Wounded Warriors now fighting their way back into society.

"It changes your life quite dramatically," said Lujan.

Monday, the Hope for Warriors organization kept the fight to staying below par, partnering golf pros with real life heroes.

"Even though we're wounded, we're not out of the game," said Lujan. "We're still out here doing as much as we can with our limitations."

Once paralyzed from the waist down, doctors cleared Lujan for the course just months ago.

"The golf game is a lot different now," said Lujan. "The hips don't move as good, and the back don't move as good but I still get out there and whack it. It's fun."

It was all smiles as teams embraced each warrior, regardless of where the ball went after contact.

"We're inspired by the warriors," said golf pro Jack Goetz. "We've only played one hole but we're even par."

"To experience that together with people who care about what we do it helps me from an emotional wound side heal," said Air Force Captain Adam Tanverdi.

Deployed six times to Iraq, Tanverdi still battles invisible injuries.

"We had a close call shooting a large group of civilians and it had a big impact on me," said Tanverdi.

Medication helped treat post traumatic stress disorder, but Tanverdi preferred Monday's prescription of golf.

"I think that it will be a good experience and hopefully it will inspire me to practice more," laughed Tanverdi.

It is therapy taking them away from a battlefield one swing at a time.

The Department of Defense reports more than 32,000 service members have been wounded in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Those numbers do not include all members diagnosed after their return home, or those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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