This weekend will mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on American soil that will be forever known as 9/11.
On that day, all those years ago, Charles Edward May, known to his friends and family as Chuck, felt a need to defend the country he loves. Not long after, May was enlisted, and a few years later, would find himself fighting for the United States Army in Iraq. His journey since that time has not always been easy, but this August, May found himself qualifying under the Wounded Veterans group for the Veteran Golfers Association National Championship.
“It’s been a huge sense of accomplishment,” said May. “Considering where I was years ago, struggling with PTSD.”
May took up golf about six years ago through the PGA HOPE program. HOPE, or Helping Our Patriots Everywhere, is part of the PGA’s REACH foundation, and was created to introduce golf to Veterans with disabilities as a means to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being. May says the program has helped him break out of his comfort zone. He later came across the VGA on Facebook and has jumped into the sport and the camaraderie with both feet, saying it has helped him “to meet other Vets struggling the same way I do.”
May finished 1st in the Wounded Veteran’s D Flight of the VGA Kansas State Championship. Then in August, at Shoal Creek in Kansas City for the Central Region Championship, May shot an overall 157 to earn his way to this weekend’s National Championship at Baltrusrol & Plainfield Country Club in Springfield, New Jersey. This marks May’s second year qualifying for nationals, but with the 20-year mark of 9/11 on the same weekend as the competition, earning the trip this year holds special significance.
“Making Nationals is huge this year,” said May, “because 9/11 was the whole reason I enlisted and fought for this amazing country.”
Programs like the VGA have had an amazing impact on Veteran’s across the nation. With over 450 tournaments and over 9,100 members, the VGA proudly touts its suicide-free history. May shared that 22 Veterans commit suicide every day, and that working with a group that does so much to help those who are struggling to find peace has made a big difference in his own life.
“Live for tomorrow and not for yesterday is what I try to live by.”