13th Annual Chenega Invitational to benefit wounded military veterans

(Photo courtesy of Kaylah Jackson)

Golfing for a good cause: 13th annual Chenega invitational supports Azalea Charities Aid for Wounded Warriors

May 23, 2019 - 8:25 am
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A cloudy overcast sky parted on the Old Hickory Golf Club in Virginia last week as soon as the words, “let’s golf,” hit the loudspeakers. Dozens gathered on the green for an afternoon of golf and socializing, all in the name of supporting the nation’s military veterans.

“When there are service people that don’t own a home or they can’t afford an apartment or they have medical needs that just aren’t being met because they can’t afford it, when the term of affordability gets introduced to a veterans needs to me, that’s a crime,” said John Campagna, Army veteran and president of Chenega Military, Intelligence and Operations Support Strategic Business Unit (Chenega MIOS).

(Photo courtesy of Chenega MIOS)

The 13th annual Chenega Invitational brings together businesses, organizations, and individuals to help raise funds to benefit Azalea Charities Aid for Wounded Warriors.

In Campagna's words, events like this invitational are a way to “fill the gap,” and Azalea Charities has a track record of doing this, from supporting VA medical centers and service dogs, to wellness programs for veterans.

Chris Vaughn, a Marine Corps veteran, knows first-hand the impact of Azalea Charities.

“I really think they need a shot of hope and that’s exactly what Azalea Charities did for me. When I quit caring about myself, and I thought everybody else did, and the world was coming to an end, here's this phone call I get that felt like it came from above: ‘hey these guys are sending you treatment,’ said Vaughn. “Not only did it give me a second chance but it also kind of ignited a fire in me to give back the same way they selflessly gave to me.”

(Photo courtesy of Chenega MIOS)

During his two deployments with the 3rd Battalion 8th Marines, Vaughn served in combat in Fallujah and Ramadi, Iraq where his unit lost several Marines. After struggling in his own transition period, he now pays it forward by working as a peer counselor with other veterans.

“Who else can take care of our own better than us?” said Vaughn. “By me going through my struggles and coming out on the other side, I’m able to sit down, empathize, and relate and jump down in the hole with these guys and say ‘let’s get out of this thing together.’”

Azalea Charities is a dual mission charity and has been supporting the military community since 2004. In its first year of the invitational, Chenega MIOS raised about $12,000. Just last year the group raised over $80,000.

“I’m a veteran. I’m a Vietnam veteran, and we cannot let our veterans go by the wayside. That’s my effort and my passion, and my organization is based on that passion,” said Frank Lasch, Sr., chairman, and founder of Azalea Charities.

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