Don Keelan

Someone once said the definition of a military veteran "is someone, who at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The People of the United States of America,’ for any amount up to and including my life."

Fortunately, the 30 Vermont wounded warriors who will participate in the 2014 Vermont Wounded Warriors Golf Tournament made it through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not without a price.

For them, the price was physical and emotional. However, to spend a day with these Wounded Warriors one would never hear a word from any of them as to the hardships they had to endure in defending our country.

The 2014 Vermont Wounded Warriors’ Golf Committee (this writer is a member) will once again host a golf tournament and banquet, on Sept. 3, at the Manchester Country Club, in Manchester.

It was in September 2012, that the first tournament was held (the result of a meeting held in 2011 by Greg Vahle, Dalton Blackwell and Frank Shattuck.) Their purpose in doing so was important: To raise the awareness of the plight of the Wounded Warrior. The event was a huge success -- measured in many different ways that it was repeated in 2013 and is planned again for 2014.

All 30 wounded warriors are guests and each assigned to a three-member golf team -- the wounded w0arrior being the fourth member of each team. In past tournaments it has been difficult to determine who was enjoying the day more -- the wounded warrior or the teams’ other golfers? For the third year running, the tournament will be honored to have the USO/Liberty Bells from New York City to perform at the day’s event and evening banquet. The team of young ladies who make up the Liberty Bells, when not in Manchester, perform at military installations in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Another aspect of the evening event is the keynote speaker. This year will be no exception and a former professional ball player who has had a 26-year career with MLB will join the evening’s festivities. He will be joined by Miss Vermont, Molly Carson of Bennington, the tournament’s honorary spokesperson.

The event would not have been the success it has been had it not been for the support from the Bennington County community and businesses. This year’s tournament is being co-sponsored by Plasan North America, a major manufacturing company located in Bennington and the VFW Post No. 6471, of Manchester Center.

Other area businesses, including The Orvis Company, Garlic Johns, JK Adams, Express Copy and many others have provided close to $20,000 of in-kind donations. It is the hope of the Committee that this year’s event will be as successful as the prior tournaments, where over $56,000 was dispersed to local area organizations that assist our state’s veterans.

The committee wishes to inform the public that it is not connected with the National Wounded Warrior Project. The committee is made up of 16 local individuals, half of whom are military veterans and among them, three are Purple Heart recipients.

If you wish to be a part of this year’s event you can do so in several ways. One is that you may wish to enter your own golf team. You can also help even if you don’t wish to play golf, by sending us a donation. Whether it is for golf registration or a donation or both, please send your donation to: MCC-2014 Vermont Wounded Warrior Golf Tournament, c/o Manchester Country Club, P. O. Box 947 Manchester Center, Vermont 05255.

The local organizations that the committee will send the donations to aid over 400 Vermont Veterans. We would hope that you might help us meet our goal and provide for the needs of our Vermont military veterans.

Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington.