Five-time Major and three-time Masters Champion Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, joined with senior military leaders, PGA TOUR executives and corporate partners in honoring wounded heroes and military families during a military appreciation ceremony last week during the PGA TOUR’s CareerBuilder Challenge on the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West. During the ceremony, which was held on Patriot Day, Mickelson announced the start of a year-long fundraising and awareness campaign marking the 10th anniversary of Birdies for the Brave – a military outreach initiative he founded in 2006 along with Amy and longtime friend, Glenn Cohen, which is dedicated to honoring and showing appreciation to the courageous members of our U.S. Armed Forces and their families.
In addition to the Mickelsons, ceremony participants included PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem; Command Sergeant Major Patrick Alston, Senior Leader of United States Strategic Command; Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder; Tom Deitz, Commander, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Former Commanding Officer of SEAL Team Five and Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) Board member; Desert Classic Charities Board of Directors member John Foster; Callaway Golf’s Kirby Pert; and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, who provided military pageantry and ceremonial presentations.
Highlighting the ceremony was the presentation of custom golf clubs to two local wounded heroes by Callaway Golf as part of the Callaway Warrior Club Fitting program, as well as the presentation of a $100,000 educational scholarship from the Mickelsons to Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF), for the benefit of the children of fallen U.S. Navy SEAL Commander Peter Oswald. Phil Mickelson serves as the Birdies for the Brave PGA TOUR player supporter for SOWF, a military charity dedicated to providing college scholarships for the children of fallen special operations forces.
Also during the ceremony, SOWF honored the Mickelsons for their creation and continued support for Birdies for the Brave by presenting them with a decorative Navy SEAL paddle. The paddle’s inscription reads, “In grateful appreciation to Phil and Amy Mickelson. Because of your generosity, the families of special operators will never be forgotten, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice will forever be honored.”
“I was able to grow up with a father who flew F-8 Crusaders, which was cool enough as it was, but the fact that he protected our freedoms made him my idol,” said Phil Mickelson. “Through our foundations, Amy and I really try to help families, specifically through education. We feel that that education is such a great opportunity and it has a special place in our hearts.”
Amy Mickelson also expressed her support for our military, saying, “Phil and I have always had a deep sense of gratitude, and a desire to make sure that the courageous military men and women get the love and support that they need while they’re serving, but also when they’re at home.”
PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem, whose father was a Marine who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, said during the ceremony, “Any time you can be part of recognizing our military is very, very special. It’s fitting that we start this year by recognizing the work of Phil and Amy Mickelson and their friend, Glenn Cohen, for creating Birdies for the Brave.”
CareerBuilder, a company dedicated to helping people find jobs, announced that it will soon launch a new program especially focused on helping military personnel transition back into society after coming home from war or leaving the Armed Forces.
“At CareerBuilder, we are dedicated to helping people get re-skilled very quickly, and helping high school students find out about the jobs of the future. Beginning next month, we will focus a lot of that effort on our military veterans,” said Ferguson.
Since being founded by Mickelson, Birdies for the Brave has raised more than $15 million for 11 military homefront charities and activates military outreach and appreciation activities during more than 60 PGA TOUR tournaments annually. To learn more about Birdies for the Brave and the many fundraising and promotional activities taking place in 2016 to celebrate the program’s 10th anniversary, or to make a donation, please visit www.birdiesforthebrave.org or follow them on Facebook.