SAN DIEGO (CBSMiami) — On this Memorial Day, we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, but for many veterans who have honorably served our country, there are sacrifices still being made as many veterans struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
However, there is an organization helping veterans get back on course through the game of golf.READ MORE: 3 Children Injured In NW Miami-Dade Crash
Veteran Jake Kessler says playing golf is helping him in ways he never imagined.
“You can’t just say ‘Oh I’m injured’ and sit around and not do anything,” says Kessler.
Kessler was on his final mission in Iraq 13 years ago when a bomb exploded.
“I lost both my legs, one above the knee, one below the knee,” he says.
Kessler was awarded the Purple Heart, but he struggled with PTSD, which is something up to 20-percent of veteran’s experience.
“You don’t really want to do nothing when you’re in dark places. You don’t want to reach out, but that’s really what you need to do,” he says.
Therefore, Kessler reached out to fellow veteran Tony Perez, who founded “Operation Game On.”
The program helps rehabilitate wounded warriors, giving them free golf lessons and fitting them for clubs and gear.READ MORE: Miami-Dade Residents Gather To Protest Closure Of Matheson Hammock Park's West Entrance
“I know what they’ve been though. I’ve been through that. I know what they’re going through now,” says Perez.
PTSD experts say golf provides both physical and mental rehabilitation, which allows these veterans to build confidence.
“Something like golf, there’s a lot of regularity, repetition, learning and it’s soothing,” explains Dr. Jo Sornborger from UCLA’s Operation Mend.
It also provides companionship.
“It’s given me a support group. You get out of the military and lose your support,” says Kessler.
Kessler says he is now finding peace on the links with every swing.
“Operation Game On” has helped more than 500 veterans dealing with combat related injuries and PTSD since 2008.
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