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With every swing, these veterans are driving away their combat wounds

<i>WTVR</i><br/>When she was tall as a pitching wedge Monica Southall got hooked on golf. “I tried golf a couple of years ago
When she was tall as a pitching wedge Monica Southall got hooked on golf. “I tried golf a couple of years ago

By Greg McQuade

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    NEW KENT COUNTY, Virginia (WTVR) — When she was tall as a pitching wedge Monica Southall got hooked on golf.

“I tried golf a couple of years ago,” said Monica. “It is just amazing to be out here. It is calming serene type environment. I just love it so much.”

But not until the 43-year-old picked up a club did she realize how challenging the sport can be.

Despite the shanks and slices, the woman from Henrico finds contentment on the course.

Rounds on these links sure beat rounds in a war zone.

“It just never really leaves you. You’re taught to be very hyper vigilant overseas, but unfortunately we’re not taught to turn that off,” explained Monica. In 2008, the U.S. Army veteran served at a forward operating base during a tour in Afghanistan.

“They were constantly, constantly under attack. You never knew if it was incoming or outgoing,” said Monica. “It’s just the fact that I brought it home with me that bothers me the most.”

Monica returned with troubling memories and frayed nerves. She needed a mulligan, so she turned to Fairways for Warriors. The nonprofit invites service members living with inner and outer wounds to the golf course.

Fairways National Chaplain Roy Bell said in this group lower scores don’t matter.

“It is a family of combat-wounded veterans and like-minded individuals. We’ve chewed the same dirt together. We’ve experienced similar things,” said Roy. “Little bit of progress one step at a time and not giving up that is going to pay off in the end.”

The retired soldier who served three tours in Iraq believes addressing issues together help veterans avoid hazards that sometimes prove fatal.

“When it seems the world has given up on us, we can always turn to each other and know someone is there,” said Roy.

Combat-wounded veteran Jeff Grieves who lives with constant pain knows the weight of war.

“There are smells over there that you will never forget. There are sounds over there you will never forget,” said Jeff.

The special forces solider served eight tours in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa.

“I’ve seen several car bomb situations. I’ve seen them happen and I’ve seen the aftermath,” recalled Jeff.

Jeff believes Fairways for Warriors and his companion, Bailey, serve as the best medicine.

“Even if you don’t play golf, just get in a golf car and ride around with us,” he said. “You forget about things. It is calming for the time that we are out here.”

Trust in and loyalty to your brothers and sisters who served extend beyond the battlefield.

The golfers in this league don’t expect a call from the PGA anytime soon. Because skill level doesn’t matter.

“But there is something about being on a golf course. Chasing a little white ball around and hitting it 120 times that still brings more peace than sitting at home by yourself all day long,” said Roy.

For veterans like Monica Southall, golf is proving more than just a sport. This veteran is teeing up a new outlook on life and healing with every swing.

“We can’t wait till the next event so we can come back together and laugh and joke some more as we hit more balls into the woods,” said Monica.

If you would like information on Fairways for Warriors, click here:

Fairways for Warriors will be holding a fundraiser on June 12 at The Club at Viniterra in New Kent.

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