Veterans gather for special golf clinic in NJ

SEWELL, N.J. - September 23, 2010

This year's event was held at Pittman Golf Course in Sewell, N.J.

The past two years they have been "First Swing" clinics for Vets to spend some time on the driving range, but this year, they actually participated in a 9-hole scramble.

Frank Hicks lost his leg when a single bullet tore through it while serving in Vietnam.

He is one of 18 amputee vets who spent the morning on the links at Pittman Golf Course.

"I look forward to it and was hoping to improve my game. The instructors and everybody are doing a great job," Hicks said.

Each team was made up of two amputee vets, a golf pro, and one special guest.

While some showed more experience than others, those like Matt Hess, who lost his leg when he stepped on a landmine in Afghanistan, don't give up.

Then there was the "Awesome Foursome."

John O'Brien golfed in the Marines before he lost his arm and leg in a harrier AV-8B jump jet explosion 17 years ago this week.

He does this to inspire younger vets.

"It's inspiring to them because they know life is going to move on for them," O'Brien said.

This team's 23- year-old golf pro Brian Hallenbeck is enlisting in the Navy in a few weeks.

"It's huge for me, I'm learning a lot more from them; I'm just teaching them their golf swing," Hallenbeck said.

Frank Hicks, also part of the foursome, improved his game throughout the morning.

Retired colonel, Billie Jean Randolph, rounded out the "Awesome Foursome." After nearly three decades in the army, she's now Deputy Chief Consultant for Prosthetics in Washington D.C.

The golf outings are organized by the Department of Veteran Affairs.

The goal is to help vets learn to play golf on their own and continue their path of rehab and recovery.

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