It's a small way to say thank you.
This year the Tennessee women's golf team partnered with Folds of Honor, an organization that provides scholarships to family members of fallen and disabled service-members.
During each tournament throughout the season they carried a golf bag honoring Army Staff Sergeant John Michael Schafer. A Vietnam veteran and two- time Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient.
“It really took me into the moment of each shot counts as a different shot and just trying to hit the best shot possible and really kind of gave me perspective over the course of the tournament,” sophomore golfer Allison Herring said. “And something to smile at while I was walking down the fairway and really be proud that I was the only person out there carrying that bag."
“It was really fun to be able to put my clubs into it and be able to move into for the week and carry it with pride," junior Anna Newell said.
Staff Sergeant Schafer has a daughter, Alexandra, that’s a nursing student at UT on a Folds of Honor Scholarship. She’s pursuing nursing after seeing the difference a good nurse can make due to her dad’s experiences in and out of the hospital.
She was touched by the gesture from the UT golf team.
“I guess I take it for granted how great the sacrifice my dad has made for this country and for me just to see what that means to other people really brought me down to a new level and make me respect him so much more,” Alexandra said.
Unfortunately, Schafer suffers from many of health disparities tracking back to Agent Orange and his time in Vietnam.
“Ever since I can remember he's suffered from PTSD,” Alexandra said. “It's just he's truly back there and he feels the pain that he felt when he was there and so it's just really hard to look back and see that pain that he felt there and he's still feeling today.”
Alexandra shared a picture of her dad when he was 20 years old serving in Vietnam, about the same age as Alexandra and the Tennessee golfers. Although their experiences are immensely different, they’re brought together by a mutual love for golf.
“Ever since my dad retired about seven or eight years ago he spent sun up to sun down on the golf course either working on his own game or giving lessons to others, and it just brought a new joy to his life," Alexandra said.
And a sense of pride.
“He's always said that besides having kids he has the most pride in that and he carries that pride around with him every single day and just to be honored in this way he would be so incredibly thankful.”
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