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U.S. military members deserve more than donuts and coffee

L.A. PARKER, THE TRENTONIAN – So, three New Jersey National Guard members walked into the living room of the TPC Jasna Polana mansion may sound like a lead for a good military joke but their entrance yesterday delivered a surreal moment.

“These are the days when I feel real guilty, when we are here just (representing) and living off tax payers money,” one officer said.

By the way, the three officers had helped themselves to a donut and cup of coffee. Not exactly breaking the bank with such a chow down of those morning items

For my money, all three National Guard members and other U.S. service military in town for the 10th Annual Birdies for the Brave event, could order every item from any Princeton restaurant menu then walk.

Somebody should make sure that U.S. military members and their families receive support, employment, counseling, and appreciation for all that they preserve.

Birdies for the Brave is a military outreach initiative supported by the PGA Tour and dedicated to a mission of support for brave men and women of U.S. Armed Forces.

TPC Jasna Polana remains a popular host that enabled the PGA Tour to raise over $1.5 million last year. The Princeton-based club expected to add $125,000 through golf, silent auction, and other fund raisers.

TPC Jasna Polana Marketing Assistant and Birdies for the Brave Coordinator Kim Provenzano enjoyed her inaugural experience.

“This is my first year coordinating the event so I was a little nervous. It was very exciting watching everything come together,” she said.

U.S. military members held positions throughout the Gary Player-designed course as the day started with breakfast, plus, a landing of an Army helicopter on the TPC Jasna Polana practice area.

Some were dressed in camouflage gear like on Hole No. 11 where New Jersey National Guard members Sgt. Thomas Calvo, Sgt. Teresa Jara, SFC William Daisey, and SFC John Dillon greeted participants.

Calvo declined identification until his superior officer intervened.

“I really don’t want to give my name. I’m not here to be in the paper,” Calvo offered.

“Well, I hate to pull rank, son, but give the gentleman your name,” Daisey said.

Let me tell you. This represented one of the coolest moments. OK, not exactly a “You can’t handle the truth” showdown but one where a superior officer had to push a man toward deserved spotlight.

Such humble feelings exhibited by people who risk their lives for this country produced an uncomfortable personal reaction. These men and women have faced hateful enemies, stood firm and fast against wind, sand, and enemy fire, frequently drop whatever they were in the middle of, and pack up in a moment’s notice. Yet, they feel unworthy of a free breakfast or photo.

War is not my cup of tea but personal feelings allow separation of soldier from service requirement. U.S. officials should always work toward peaceful resolutions in all matters before placing our men and women in harms way.

Birdies for the Brave comprehends the totality of military service, including families forced to deal with separation from parents, siblings, children, and other relatives.

TPC Jasna Polana continues an outreach that includes an Area-Wide Junior Clinic which frequently brings world golf star Dennis Walters to Cadwalader Park for an exhibition.

“We are happy to have been a part of this event since its inception in 2005” General Manager Chad Fleming said. “All of the staff plays a role to make our Birdies for the Brave event a success. We work as a team to pull it off, it makes me proud to be involved with the PGA TOUR, TPC Network, and TPC Jasna Polana.”

Our pride extends to all U.S. military men and women who honorably serve our nation.

Of course, our wish must always be that they are not sent half way round the world for war. But if such a fate occurs then our charge is to welcome them home when they return.