Pay It Forward Week -Day 5: Troops First Foundation

This whole week has been focused on paying good will forward. For those who have played along, thank you for supporting some very talented and inspiring writers. Please continue to do so and also check out other authors listed on this website and on my Twitter feed. These folks take words and weave them into wonderful tapestries. For less than the price of a latte, you can help them continue to do so.

Pay It Forward Week ends at midnight tonight. That means there’s still time for you to buy books from this week’s authors, myself included. For every sale, I’ll donate $3 (the cover price for my recent release, SUMMONED CHAOS) per book to Troops First Foundation. That means you’ll not only be supporting authors you love, but also an organization well worth the investment of a few dollars.

What is Troops First Foundation?

Troops First Foundation was created in 2008 by golf celebrity David Ferhety and his friend Rick Kell. Their mission was to provide care for wounded warriors through a number of initiatives to include:

Operation Front Door – a program to help wounded vets buy homes.

Operation Coaches and Warriors – a program to provide wounded vets with messages from their favorite basketball coaches.

Operation Proper Exit – a program to allow vets who were injured and removed from combat a chance to return to Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) so they can depart the combat zone by choice.

Operation V.I.P. – a program where celebrities and burn victims at Brooke Army Medical Center can have some one-on-one time.

Why Troops First?

War is an atrocious thing. It is the most destructive, violent answer to political troubles. It is dark, bloody, and terrifying. With the dawn of the Information Age, these horrors are accessible to anyone, anywhere, at anytime.

Despite the brutal realities piped into our news feeds, we still have men and women willing to serve. It’s almost impossible for them to not know what they’re signing up for, and yet, they still do it. They leave the safety of their homes, get yelled at by Drill Instructors for several months, then ship off to the far corners of the planet.

Many return home forever changed. Physically and emotionally.

Thankfully, our nation has truly embraced the concept of taking care of our wounded veterans. While the system isn’t perfect, there are hundreds of worthy charities dedicated to helping these heroes. I have had the privilege to participate in events for various organizations, but Troops First stands out because of two very important reasons:

1) Golf. The organization flies wounded vets all over the country to play golf with Pros and Amateurs. Many times these events are on PGA-quality courses. As an avid golfer myself, I appreciate the levity of offering wounded vets the chance to meet and compete with professional golfers on courses we mortals could never afford to play.

As small as that may sound, the rivers of this run deep. One gentleman I was paired with several years ago, an Explosive Ordinace Disposal (EOD) tech, joked that he’d had 1199 great missions and one bad one. He was literally blown to pieces and the doctors stitched him back together. The damage to his ribs (replaced) and spine (fused) meant he had limited flexibility, so his doctor told him to play golf to stretch the muscles. Many years later, he credited golf and the only reason he was mobile. More to the point, he swore that without Troops First, he would never have been able to shed the emotional weight he was carrying because of his injuries. Something as silly and playing 18-holes with fellow wounded vets on a “big-league” course gave him hope.

Trust me folks, giving hope to our veterans when they are suffering through the darkness of personal struggles is huge.

2) Limited Media. Gang, I cannot begin to tell you how amazing this is. Not that there is zero media, but Troops First tries to minimize the impact this has on some vets. Most of the folks that Troops First supports have been ravaged by war. Missing limbs are the obvious injuries, but many also suffer Traumatic Brain Injuries. Many more, the invisible, emotional scars that are extremely difficult to treat. By keeping Troops First events small and personal, veterans are able to enjoy the day/weekend without being under a microscope or feeling like a marketing tool. As one guy metnioned to me on the tee box,  “It’s nice to not be paraded around for sympathy money.”

Troops First supports the men and women who protected this great nation of ours and paid for it. For many, that meant sacrifice that no one but another wounded warrior can comprehend. Troops First takes these brave individuals and gives them a safe, positive environment where they, and not the golfing Pros and Amateurs, are the focus. They devote time and money to ensure that America’s warriors, the ones willing to bear the brunt of violence in order to shield us at home, are treated like the heroes they truly are.

It is an honor to donate to a cause that supports the people who paid it forward to us.

I hope you’ll join me in doing the same for them.

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