DEL MAR, Calif. --
Marines from Wounded Warrior Battalion West aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., teed off as part of Operation Game On at the Del Mar Golf Center in Del Mar, Calif. Nov. 12, 2013.
Tony Perez, president of Operation Game On, created the program in January, 2008 to help injured troops with their rehabilitation.
“A lot of the troops, especially the double amputees, were saying playing golf helps with their balance, their coordination, and takes their minds off of their injuries,” Perez said. “They realize that life does go on, and they realize they can do what we are asking them to do.”
Operation Game On consists of eight weeks of golf lessons, culminating in a test day to see what the injured troops have learned and what they need to work on. Following their test day, troops will get fitted for new golf equipment.
“They will get professionally fitted by the pros, as a professional PGA tour player would get fitted,” said Perez. “ They will be receiving a full set of golf clubs, shoes and a bag.”
The golf sessions created a sense of belonging and camaraderie among the troops, he says.
“A lot of these guys saw each other in the therapy room but didn’t really know each other,” said Perez. “We have Army, we have Navy, and we have Marines, and now they’ve become best of friends.”
Perez, who was also a Vietnam veteran, understands the troops’ need for support.
“I’m a Vietnam veteran and we didn’t have anything when we came home,” he said. “ I just felt compelled to do something and golf is what I know the best.”