There was a time in this country that uniformed personnel of the military were spat on for their involvement in wars and conflicts around the world. I am embarrassed for my country that US citizens could ever treat our veterans with such disdain. After all, a citizen’s right to act that way was protected by the service of the very person they spat on.
On August 29, I was honored to play a charity round of golf for the Minnesota Veterans Medical Research and Education Foundation. at Minnesota Valley Country Club. I was paired with three Marines- Doug Sampson, Roger Rand, and Jeff Savelkoul. Jeff is veteran who was badly injured as part of a recon mission in Vietnam. His helicopter took on heavy fire, caught fire, crashed, and remained lodged in the tree tops. Jeff was one of two people that survived out of the 11-man crew. He sustained burns on the majority of his body, as well as 2 broken knees, 2 broken shoulders, 7 broken vertebrae, and a broken elbow. He spent 13 months in the hospital.
I personally find the stories of our wounded veterans truly humbling. It is astonishing the amount of sacrifice given to make sure America retains its freedoms. Those freedoms come at a great price.
As a non-veteran, I always assumed that our Federal Government took care of our veterans, especially those who are injured in the line of duty. While the government does pay for medical care through the VA health care system, there is some much more that goes into caring for our veterans. That is where the Minnesota Veterans Medical Research and Education Foundation comes through. The Foundation directly supports the research and education efforts of the Minneapolis VA. More than 160 VA scientists and investigators have been active in conducting over 600 research projects.
The Foundation is a private, state-charted nonprofit organization that does not receive any direct government funding. They are funded only through the generosity of research sponsors and donors. Medical breakthroughs that benefit the entire community rely on the ongoing commitment and support of the community as a whole.
The golf was followed up with a dinner and a small program of speakers.
- Susie Jones of WCCO Radio was the master of ceremonies;
- Chaplain John Morris, State Chaplain, MN National Guard- Chaplain Morris is the co-creator, along with MG Larry Shellito, of the “Minnesota Beyond the Yellow Ribbon”reintegration program for returning combat veterans and their families. In 2008 Congress mandated the Yellow Ribbon program used by Minnesota as the national standard for all returning Guard and Reserve soldiers and family members.
- Melissa Polusny, Ph.D., Minneapolis VA Healthcare System Researcher. Dr. Polusny is a staff psychologist at the Minneapolis VA serving veterans suffering from PTSD as a clinician and researcher.
- Chris Wright, President, Minnesota Timberwolves– This season marks Wright’s 21st year with the Timberwolves organization and seventh as the team’s president. Wright is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the team.
- Andrew Hansen, PhD, Research Health Scientist, Minneapolis VA Health Care System, Adjunct Associate Professor, Northwestern University– Andrew is the Director of the Minneapolis VA Rehabilitation Engineering Research Laboratory and is currently leading three VA-funded projects related to ankle-foot prostheses design and evaluation.
- Clay Tenquist, Executive Director, Minnesota Veterans Medical Research and Education Foundation– Clay has been executive director of the Foundation for nearly two years. In his capacity he is responsible for the management, compliance, external relations, strategic plan, and governance coordination of the Foundation.
To learn more about supporting the Minnesota Veterans Medical Research and Education Foundation, visit http://www.MNVets.org.
Thanks to all the veterans who continue to protect our country and ensure our freedoms.