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We asked Jerry Woods, last year’s Warrior Open Champion and Team 43 member, to talk about his experience at the Warrior Open and how he is handling these uncertain times.
Feelings of anxiety and depression can be heightened during these uncertain times. For those with a history of post-traumatic stress (PTS) or traumatic brain injury (TBI), many of whom are veterans, these emotions can be amplified. As a nation, it is our responsibility to provide veterans with a supportive community.
We asked Jerry Woods, last year’s Warrior Open Champion and a Team 43 member, to talk about his experience at the Warrior Open and how he is handling these uncertain times.
You were last year’s Warrior Open champion. Congratulations, again. Tell us about the Warrior Open and what it means to you to be a member of Team 43.
It's very hard for me to describe how incredible the Warrior Open experience was and what it means to be part of Team 43. When I received the call last year, I was so honored just to have the opportunity to participate in the event. I honestly had no intentions of winning the Warrior Open.
From the minute we arrived my wife and I were treated like we were part of the family. When I say family, I truly mean family! President and Mrs. Bush made us all feel like we were one of their own and like we were home. They both truly care about veterans, and through the Bush Institute they are doing so much to help us. I wish every veteran would be able to experience what we did that weekend.
I am so honored be part of this family and continue to be an advocate for Team 43, the Military Service Initiative, and the mission. I am forever grateful for all the support they provide our vets and to everyone who makes these events possible, the staff, donors, and of course, President and Mrs. Bush.
Tell us how you are staying connected with Team 43 and the golfers you met last year as you deal with the challenges of social connections during this COVID-19 isolation.
I met so many great men and their spouses at the tournament last May. Following the Warrior Open, I was able to see several of them throughout the year. We have a group text that we use almost daily, especially now. Most of the time it’s just good banter between us...but there are a few times where we have serious discussions about our struggles and how best to deal with those feelings. Having this support group and brotherhood is one of the greatest attributes of what Team 43 represents.
With the current COVID-19 situation one of our team members suggested we hold a video call with the group. This has been incredibly therapeutic and has allowed our family to join. We’re meeting each other’s kids, etc. This seems like such a minor thing to do, but I have to say, I think it has really helped us cope with everything going on right now and has allowed us to maintain our friendships and develop new relationships with our Team 43 family.
What do you think is important for other veterans to know or what can they can do right now to help others?
Veterans need to know that it’s ok to ask for help. To summarize what President Bush told us at the Warrior Open, it's courageous to talk about your challenges, and if you need help, seek it. If you need help transitioning from service and the challenges of finding employment or dealing with the invisible wounds of war—seek it. Everyone has stuff they are dealing with, and especially now, it’s important to take care of ourselves and each other.
For me, golf is my therapy. Golf provides the opportunity to get away mentally when I need to, but it also provides an opportunity to connect with other veterans. Sometimes, the serenity of a golf course is where we feel safe in speaking about PTS or other issues we’re struggling with.
PTS, TBI, and other mental health issues aren’t just a veteran thing and not all veterans have PTS or TBI. Civilians can also have it – they’re just injured in a different way. If you need help, especially now, reach out, or take a minute and call your buddies and check on them. We really are all in this together.