Soldier On tees up recovery with golf

Private (Retired) Tanner Wilson gets some practice in on the driving range at Bear Mountain Golf Club during a Soldier On Golf Camp, April 2. Wilson did two tours in Afghanistan and says the sport of golf has been essential to his recovery from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

Private (Retired) Tanner Wilson gets some practice in on the driving range at Bear Mountain Golf Club during a Soldier On Golf Camp, April 2. Wilson did two tours in Afghanistan and says the sport of golf has been essential to his recovery from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Inclement weather didn’t thwart a group of ill and injured military members from hitting the links at Bear Mountain last week; they soldiered on.

Twelve veterans and currently ­serving military members from Western Canada were in the midst of a four-day Soldier On golf camp in Victoria, April 2 to 5. Four area golf clubs (Victoria Golf and Country Club, Bear Mountain Golf Club, Highland Pacific Golf and Uplands Golf Club) graciously waved their green fees and provided free instruction from their golf pros during the camp.

The Soldier On program is run by the Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group with a mandate to encourage participants to use sport for recovery and lead active, physically fit lives.

It’s a concept that Master Corporal (Retired) Michael Feyko fully believes in. He broke multiple bones below his waist after a parachuting accident in Edmonton in 1997. He was medically released from the military in 2001 and says he turned to golf for recovery. Today, Feyko is a teaching professional with the PGA of Canada and works with Soldier On participants at their golf camps.

“I can relate to them and they can learn the game of golf from someone who was in the same situation as them,” says Feyko. “I can tell them what to expect, what the next bump is or what the next road block is going to be, and how to keep going even when you feel like you can’t.”

Corporal (Retired) Tanner Wilson says he has greatly benefited from getting golf back into his life. He was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after doing tours in Afghanistan. Right before the end of his last tour, in May 2010, he and his friend Private Kevin McKay had ordered golf clubs and were looking forward to trying them out when they returned home to Edmonton. But the next day Pte McKay was killed by an improvised explosive device while on a roadside patrol.

“Ordering the golf clubs with him was not something I really remembered until I started playing the game again many months later. I was repressing that memory the whole time,” said Wilson. “From a therapy standpoint, golf has opened so many doors for me that were previously closed. The game helps me judge the decisions I make on the course, and the decisions in life. It has been a tremendous help to me in dealing with my PTSD.”

Soldier On’s Warrant Officer Sherri Schwemler says developing that “military” camaraderie with other men and women like them, ending the isolation,and building self-confidence are some of the program’s main objectives.

“Bringing our participants back into that team dynamic has such an amazing impact on them and makes them realize they are not alone in their recovery,” said WO Schwemler. “I always tell our participants that if you are facing the sun you will never be in the shadows. That is what Soldier On is all about, pointing them in the right direction.”

Soldier On hosts approximately 60 sports camps and events across Canada each year and also coordinates Canada’s Invictus and Warrior Games teams. For more information about Soldier On and its programs visit their website at www.SoldierOn.ca or their Facebook or Twitter pages.

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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  1. Anne Snyder says:

    Sounds like an effective and extremely worthwhile program (hosting 60 sports camps, too) for those soldiers involved!

    Appreciate ‘Soldier On’ coordinating Canada’s Invictus and Warrior Games…

    Very exciting and inclusive!

    Mother of 2008 Afghan fatality.p

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