PANAMA CITY BEACH — Golfers soon will tee off in the Panama City Beach area to raise money for combat-wounded veterans.
Set for May 20 at the Nicklaus Golf Course in Bay Point, the second annual Charity Golf Tournament will raise money for October’s Warrior Beach Retreat, an all-expenses-paid vacation for select veterans who suffered combat injuries since 9/11.
The tournament is overseen by INDUS Technologies, an engineering consultant based in San Diego.
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Warrior Beach Retreat is “important because a lot of these men and women come home, and they don’t necessarily get a hero’s welcome,” said Eric MacGregor, president and CEO of INDUS. “There’s not a ton of recognition, and a lot of (combat-wounded veterans) go through a lot of challenges, whether it’s physically or mentally, and I just think that we as a country … could probably do a better job of taking care of them.”
Proceeds from the tournament will help fund the Warrior Beach Retreat, one of two weeklong events held each year in Panama City Beach by Warrior Beach Retreat Inc. The previous one was in March.
Linda Hope, president of the nonprofit, said she founded the organization more than a decade ago after her son, now-retired Army Sgt. Josh Cope, was severely injured by an improvised explosive device blast in Baghdad, Irag. He lost both of his legs above the knee and wounded his hand.
The retreat not only is a way to appreciate those who suffered battle injuries while serving the United States, it also strengthens the marriages of veterans and their spouses, who Hope said often are forgotten heroes.
“Basically, (the retreats are about them) reconnecting as a couple … and they don’t have the financial burden of what (it) would have cost them,” Hope said. “(This fundraiser) just really continues to help fulfill the vision to bring hope and healing to the warriors and their spouses and their caregivers that they so desperately need.”
MacGregor, a partially disabled veteran who served in the Air Force for about six years, noted that he hosted similar golf tournaments for more than five years in California before moving to Panama City Beach in December 2020.
The upcoming tournament in Bay Point is a four-person scramble, meaning that teams of four will compete together and play their best ball each shot. Up to four mulligans also can be purchased by each golfer for $20.
Cost is $125 a person or $500 a team, and interested golfers are asked to sign up though the tournament’s website.
MacGregor expected about 100 golfers to participate. He said there also will be prizes, including an iPad, 65-inch TV and range finder.
“I just really admire what the Warrior Beach Retreat does,” MacGregor said. “It’s a cool cause, and we’re happy to help them.”
Veterans who were injured in battle, or now have battle-related PTSD, since 9/11 can apply for the retreat by visiting warriorbeachretreat.org. About 12 to 15 couples are selected to attend each retreat.
Warrior Beach Retreat Inc. is not affiliated with the Wounded Warrior Project.
“Our whole vision is to give (wounded veterans) a place of refuge when they come to Bay County,” Hope said. “There’s nothing like this in the nation where the whole community is involved. We have a parade with an opening ceremony (each retreat, and) thousands line the street with their flags, their signs, honoring the men and women who mostly went straight from the battlefield to home.”