From hell to peace. It’s a journey many veterans assisted by Veterans Helping Veterans (VHS) have taken, and it’s a story audience members heard at the 2nd annual Veterans Helping Veterans Golf Tournament.
“It wasn’t a golf tournament it was a demonstration of hope and recovery and fellowship and love,” said VHV Founder, Fred Smith.
Held on Thursday, Sept. 1, the tournament was attended by close to 180 people and the organization was able to raise upwards of $20,000 to assist homeless veterans in getting back on their feet.
Kicking of at 11 a.m., the day was full of golfing, and attendees had the chance to golf with Hometown Hockey host Ron MacLean. Crowds even had the pleasure of witnessing a flypast from the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds.
Attendees then had the opportunity to take a picture with MacLean, Smith, famous hockey dad Walter Gretzky and Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, General Walt Natycyzk.
The real aim of the tournament, however, was accomplished after the golfing when audiences had a chance to hear from individuals who had been helped by VHV.
“We actually showed everyone there that there is recovery going on and there is hope,” noted Smith.
A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the quilts of valour.
For weeks prior to the event, Smith had been gathering biographies of veterans that he has encountered and had taken the journey from hell to peace, from the streets to recovery. Working alongside MacLean, these bios were then turned into stories that were showcased during the tournament. As an individual’s story was displayed, the veteran was adorned with a uniquely hand-made quilt of valour.
“It was very heartfelt. Their humility was just booming out of them. They were more concerned with who the real heroes were when they pointed to the portraits of valour (portraits of the fallen heroes of Afghanistan),” observed Smith.
The event helped to raise awareness of the issue of veteran’s homelessness, and the work VHV does deter that.
“The real success is in the awareness. I know the testimonials of recovery and hope, people were made of what is going on.
“I’m totally convinced we couldn’t have done a better job in the way we presented,” stated Smith.
Presentations were given by Natycyzk and veterans, and Smith says during the whole program “you could hear a needle fall,” because of the rapt attention the audience was paying to the stories of bravery and success.
The money raised from the event will go straight to helping more veterans get off the streets. VHV, through the efforts of Smith, identifies homeless veterans who may be facing various forms of addictions and connects them with the resources and tools to get the help they need.
“I get a guy, and he’s in pretty rough shape, but if he’s got one tiny seed of hope I can work with it,” said Smith.
Featured image: Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, General Walt Natycyzk, Veterans Helping Veterans founder Fred Smith, Rogers Hometown Hockey co-host and military brat Ron MacLean and famous hockey dad Walter Gretzky.