Tourney benefits Wounded Warriors

Published 1:08 am Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cathy Wilson, executive director of the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, is presented with a check representing the proceeds generated by Cedar Point Country Club's First Annual Golf Tournament that benefited her program.

The Cedar Point Country Club hosted its first annual golf tournament benefiting veterans through donations to the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program on Thursday.

“People come and they use our facility for their fundraiser or for their charity,” Cedar Point Country Club President Cameron Robinett said. “But this is the first time as a club we’ve said, ‘Look, we need to do something. What are we going to do?’”

When the club board began searching for a cause, they noticed a very large hole they wanted to fill.

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“Given the strong influence of the military here, we didn’t have one tournament here that has dedicated to the military in any way,” Robinett said.

Ed Keil of Frogland Farms and a board member at the club got together with active club member Mike Wendel, president of AVW Technologies Inc., and they figured out what the club could do to help veterans.

“Once Ed did some digging and talked to Mike, that’s how they came up with the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program,” Robinett said.

Cathy Wilson, executive director of the program, explains the valuable function it serves.

“We are the commonwealth’s program to answer the behavioral health needs, rehabilitative services and support needs for Virginia veterans of any era or branch of service and their families,” she said.

The 4-year old program was built from the ground up by Wilson, a native of Portsmouth, who served in the U.S. Navy for 30 years. She retired in October 2008, serving then as commanding officer of Naval Hospital Bremerton.

Wounded Warriors is operated by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services in cooperation with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and the Department of Rehabilitative Services.

Thursday’s tournament brought $55,000 in contributions to Wounded Warriors.

“It’s very huge. That’s a large donation for a golf tournament,” Wilson said. “We don’t normally get that size of a donation to the program in one big chunk.”

“We had a great showing from the community who are not members here, but who came in to participate, which I thought was terrific,” Wendel said.

“The Cedar Point community gave very largely because they felt the importance of supporting veterans,” Keil said.

The program participates in outreach to veterans, education and direct service, but it is only helpful if the veterans know about it. Wilson was very gratified for how this tournament was helping the program in precisely the way it needs now.

“We need to get the word out in the Hampton Roads area. One in every five citizens is a veteran,” she said. “I need help to educate the community on how to receive the men and women that are coming back from deployment, to recognize the signs and symptoms of those who are getting into trouble, and to rally around so that we have the system support that they need.”

A lot of times, veterans simply do not know where to go for help.

“And if somebody tells you to go to the (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs), that’s very difficult to navigate,” Wilson said. “So, if they don’t where to go, call us. We might not be the answer, but we’re the connector.”