Team 43 Sports · Warrior Open 2017

"It's courageous to talk about invisible wounds. It's courageous to go into battle and courageous to come home and talk about it."

The 2017 Warrior Open reunited past Team 43 members for a weekend of golf and camaraderie. Most importantly, they told the stories of their journeys since returning home.

The Bush Center Warrior Open tournament annually brings together service members wounded after 9/11 to compete on the golf course. Golf has proven to be a method of healing for injured warriors, providing an outlet through which they can enjoy the outdoors while working through physical and mental injuries.

But Team 43 warriors have learned that participating in events and organizations that bring together fellow service members -- such as the Warrior Open and Team 43 Sports -- is also a powerful recovery tool. By talking about their experience with post-traumatic stress with others who have travelled similar roads, they not only advance their own recovery but also help show others that there is no stigma in returning home from war with an injury.

"Team 43 Sports has provided a network of people that have been through similar situations. You can tell these guys things you couldn't tell your wife or pyschologist. It's conversation that is unjudged and flows naturally."
- Sergeant First Class Joel Faulkenberry,
United States Army (retired)

Teeing off: Staff Sergeant Jack Schumacher tees off at the Warrior Open. (Grant Miller / George W. Bush Presidential Center)

The Power of Peer Networking

Warriors may be reticent to ask for help because of stigmas and stereotypes, or they may believe it is difficult to find, afford, and receive quality treatment and support services.

Peer-to-peer networks break down the barriers that many warriors face in addressing these issues.

That's why the Bush Institute has created the Warrior Wellness Alliance, which connects peer-to-peer veteran organizations with best-in-class care providers so that warriors can get the help they need.

"We have to recognize that you and I have never had post traumatic stress. The best way to help vets on the path to recovery is through peer to peer counseling -- vets talking to vets."
-President Bush

President Bush speaks to warriors and their families at the 2017 Warrior Open dinner. (Grant Miller / George W. Bush Presidential Center)

“Beyond the golf competition, the camaraderie was paramount during the Warrior Open – engaging with the other warriors was tremendously therapeutic. Team 43 gives us a venue of ‘recovery through community’ where it’s okay to let your guard down. Many fellow members of Team 43 have been instrumental in my journey and recovery.”
– Major Christopher Turner
United States Army

The service members participating in the 2017 Warrior Open pose at the AT&T Byron Nelson. (Stephen Goodgame / Goodgame Photography)

The Warrior Open

The Bush Institute’s Warrior Open began in 2011 for United States military personnel seriously wounded or injured since September 11, 2001. Since 2011, more than 140 warriors have participated in the Military Service Initiative’s Team 43 Sports, which include the Warrior Open and the annual W100K bike ride. Many of them are featured in President Bush’s recent book and corresponding exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Center, Portraits of Courage: A Commander-in-Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.

Sergeant Saul Martinez addresses the warriors and their families at the 2017 Warrior Open dinner. (Grant Miller / George W. Bush Presidential Center)

"As a bilateral amputee, golf is one of the few activities I've found that I can do independently. Independence is indescribable to me. I can't tell you how much it improved my life, both physically and mentally."
- Sergeant Saul Martinez

Sergeant Saul Martinez and President Bush embrace after Sergeant Martinez spoke. (Grant Miller / George W. Bush Presidential Center)

Partnership with the AT&T Byron Nelson

President George W. Bush announced Sunday that beginning in 2018, the Bush Center’s two-day Warrior Open golf tournament will be held immediately following the AT&T Byron Nelson tournament at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas, Texas.

“This partnership between the Bush Institute and the AT&T Byron Nelson introduces more Americans to the Team 43 members playing in this tournament. They represent the millions of resilient service members who served their country honorably and now lead their communities in new and meaningful ways as civilians."
- President Bush

President Bush with Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo at the tower on the 18th green on CBS at the AT&T Byron Nelson. (Grant Miller / George W. Bush Presidential Center)