PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) Ambassador Joseph Robinson proudly represented Colorado PGA REACH at the inaugural PGA HOPE National Golf and Wellness Week at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, on October 25-28, 2019. The Centennial resident is a 20-year U.S. Army Veteran who retired as a Sergeant First Class and is a graduate of a Wellshire Colorado PGA HOPE Program.
“PGA HOPE has not only helped me learn the game of golf but has helped me learn to cope with my mental health challenges,” recognizes Robinson. “I have experienced firsthand how healing the game of golf can be for veterans.”
Robinson’s journey in golf is relatively new, beginning just six years ago. As a good friend would do, he listened to his retired Air Force buddy discuss his golf game and was intrigued. He knew it was an event at the National Veterans Golden Age Games as he competed in other sports but didn’t have any experience with golf. A VA recreational therapist knew of a program where veterans could learn and practice the game and that is how Robinson got introduced to the Colorado PGA HOPE Program at Wellshire Golf Course run by PGA Head PGA Professional Kirk Mease.
“I have PTSD and have been in treatment to learn skills to overcome the challenges I face,” acknowledges Robinson. “PGA HOPE’s six-week program helped me to focus on one thing – golf – while learning to turn off outside distractions. Golf has helped me find patience with myself and even inspired me to exercise regularly, improving both my physical and mental health.”
This North Carolina native enlisted in the Army right out of high school. He started out as a company clerk and transitioned into combat arms. His tank training took him to Desert Storm where he says he saw things he will never be able to forget. His post-service work with the Veterans Affairs system is what brought Robinson and his wife to Colorado. After 20 years of military service and then 14 years of working in the VA and other government agencies, he now considers himself retired for good.
“It wasn’t all good, but it wasn’t all bad either,” say Robinson about his military career. “I really appreciate the military because without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Once Robinson got introduced to golf, he became a champion of promoting the benefits of the game to other veterans. He says PTSD is like a dark cloud that hangs over you. If you don’t have an outlet to break that cloud open and let a little ray of sunshine through, you get kind of lost. The game of golf has become his ray of sunshine.
“Golf is always engaging – you can never know enough, learn enough or practice enough. I can get out on the course and be by myself. I don’t have to worry,” explains Robinson. “The golf course wraps its arms around me and tells me I’m safe. It reminds me to just do what I was taught to do and to not worry about anything else.”
Amazing. That is the one word description Robinson uses to define his experience at the inaugural National Golf and Wellness Week at Congressional Country Club. The excellent coordination of the event gave him a warm feeling and he knew then that he was going to be a part of something much bigger than himself.
“This week was amazing as it gave me the opportunity to meet other veterans with the same goals and we walked away with lifetime encounters that we never dreamed would be ours because of the game of golf,” continues Robinson. “As a result of the sessions, I am working on opening up and sharing my experiences about the time I served, as well as my life experiences, with others.”
As a newly appointed ambassador for the PGA HOPE Program, Robinson is anxious to share the advantages the program offers with other veterans and looks forward to assisting them in their participation.
“Golf has taken me places I never expected to go. Through the HOPE program, I have learned the game of golf and appreciate the support and continued training the program offers,” concludes Robinson. “I greatly appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the program, to be an Ambassador and to be given a chance to tell my story.”
U.S. Army Retired Sergeant First Class Joseph Robinson, we thank you for your service!