I often tell people that I don’t believe in Heaven, but I do believe in angels. One of the angels who is always looking over me is Melissa Chacon on the KCRA assignment desk. She always has her eyes out for stories that I can turn around as a one-person reporter-photographer. This particular story that I’m posting here is one that she’s had in her pocket for months.
Joe Neff is the retired track and field coach at Sacramento State University and a person who Melissa has always liked. He’s just a good, good person. Joe had contacted Melissa about a volunteer project he’s been working on, for about a year now (as of this writing on November 14, 2014).
It’s a program that is run through the local Veteran’s Administration at Mather (the former Mather Air Base) that tries to help veterans suffering from PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Once a week the come out to the Mather Golf Course in the afternoon and whack a couple buckets of golf balls or go out and play a few holes.
It’s not to get the men and women talking about their experiences, but to give them an opportunity to relax and put their mind somewhere else and in the open air.
What’s more, the golf course and several other companies are providing the course time, as well as balls, clubs, etc. totally free of charge.
I think this is pretty special. My own father, who I’ve mentioned here at times, was a veteran of the Marine Corps in World War Two. He told me a lot of stories and only now, as I am nearing the age that he was at near the end of his life, do I become more and more aware of what that experience did to him–both in building him into the man he became and in leaving scars that I don’t know if even he ever realized.
This is a terrific program. The simple ones always are. And I hope it continues and that this story will help to reach out to other vets for whom the experience of just whacking a bucket of balls at a driving range with some other brothers and sisters who used to wear uniforms and find some personal peace.
As a follow-up to this story: After it aired I received this text from Joe Neff:
Very sensitive to our vets.
Well received by our vets.
Generated two vets to the program.
Received a call from the sister of a vet who wants to donate $ on behalf of her bro.
And this second note from Joe Neff:
Thanks MikeI’ve sent the link to many concerned folks. Mather VA personnel seem to be very pleased given the amount of email traffic forwarded to me from Mather. You’ve done a great service. I’m not sure you’ll ever know. Thank you. Use any of my comments on your personal/professional website.Joe