Eisenhower Center, Meijer, LPGA Team Up to Help Veterans with Special Pro-Am Event
20 women veterans will play with LPGA players on June 10 at Blythefield Country Club
GRAND RAPIDS – Kirsten Holley, Susan McCain, Shelly Rood and Lisa Curtis are female veterans concerned about fellow female veterans, and excited that Meijer, the LPGA and the Eisenhower Center understand.
The Meijer LPGA Classic Pro-Am presented by Eisenhower Center was announced last week by Meijer at the Topgolf facility in suburban Detroit, and Holley, McCain, Rood and Curtis are among the female veterans who will play golf with the LPGA stars on Monday, June 10, at Blythefield Country Club in suburban Grand Rapids.
That is the Monday of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give tournament week, which will conclude with the LPGA playing its annual stop at Blythefield Thursday, June 13, through Sunday, June 16.
The Monday Pro-Am is being presented by the Ann Arbor-based Eisenhower to bring awareness to the unique issues and struggles of female veterans, and to help Meijer feed the hungry.
Eisenhower is a rehabilitation center with three locations in Michigan primarily focused on helping individuals with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, substance abuse concerns and stress disorders.
Many of Eisenhower’s clients are military veterans, and an Eisenhower project is currently underway at Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Mount Clemens that will provide housing for veterans and their families while undergoing treatment.
John Cornack, CEO of the Eisenhower Center, said involvement with Meijer, the LPGA and the Pro-Am is about female veterans and helping people.
“We know our female veterans are underserved,” he said. “We know that they have different issues than the male veterans. That’s why we are still trying to put it all together at Selfridge where they can live in the house, be with their kids, where they can get vocational rehabilitation and move forward in their life without all the hassle and pressure to make rent, pay a bill, put food on the table and get day care.”
“The women and men who have served this country need places to go where they can kind of take a step back, put their life together and then move forward.”
Cornack is excited to be partnered with Meijer’s Simply Give campaign, which restocks the shelves of food pantries across the Midwest. The five previous LPGA tournaments in Grand Rapids have raised more than $4.2 million for the Meijer Simply Give program.
“America talks about a lot of stuff, and they all have opinions, but what they really need to do is have actions,” he said. “That is why we are in this with Meijer and the LPGA, and why female veterans have to be seen, and why hungry people need to be fed. Sometimes those are the same people. This brings it all together. We are asking people to give, to step forward, take action to help.”
Shelly Rood, a Detroit native and resident, just last August completed 16 years as a U.S. Army intelligence officer stationed in various parts of the world. She said she is shocked and astonished at the limited resources for female veterans in her home state.
“The fact that the Eisenhower Center is leading the charge to make sure there is awareness and help for female veterans is wonderful,” she said. “Most people don’t understand that when a female veteran comes home, they often face a different set of challenges, like nobody to watch their children if they try to work or if they have an injury or other problems and need to be in a medical facility. How are they supposed to get help?”
Rood isn’t a golfer but is determined to swing away at Blythefield and make sure female veterans are heard.
“There are always females not being listened to because they are females,” she said. “This fight has been going on for years, and we are witnessing history in the making when things are being done to make people aware of the females who have served our country.”
Eisenhower has presented a pro-am the last two years at the golf course at Selfridge to help raise awareness. Curtis, who served the U.S. Army for six years in the 1980s, has played in the two events.
“Female veterans have been in the shadows for a long time, so that’s the main reason I do this, plus it’s a great honor to represent that effort to help,” she said. “I’ve loved playing in it. I played with Paula Creamer. I met Christina Kim. They are pretty cool people and really care about veterans.”
McCain, who served in the Michigan Army National Guard for eight years ending in 1993, has also played in the previous two Selfridge events. She has been inspired and with Holley has helped create a Female Military Peer Support Group.
“We are not therapy, but we get together for social activities, we go play golf, just something to get us off the couch and active,” she said.
Holley was an occupational therapist for nine years of active duty ending last January, including a period in Afghanistan.
“Help when you get out of the military is so important,” she said. “I know there hasn’t been one military treatment center in Michigan that accepts both veterans and their children before this. That’s why this is so important. It’s so needed. It’s great that the Eisenhower Center and Meijer are doing this. Helping veterans, feeding the hungry. It’s all so important.”
For more information about helping the Eisenhower Center visit eisenhowercenter.com.
For more information about the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give visit meijerLPGAclassic.com.