RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — From first timers to players with a seasoned swing, a new local chapter of the PGA Hope program is providing community for veterans with disabilities in Raleigh and beyond.

For eight weeks, veterans came together at First Tee of the Triangle to learn the ins and outs of golf, some driving as far as two hours. 

During the program, PGA instructors dedicate time at no cost to teach golf as a healing outlet both physically and mentally.

“I didn’t think I’d be able to play because of injuries in my neck and in my back but it turned out fine,” Jim Bartran, whose service extended for more than 30 years, said. 

Navy veteran Kent Martin never picked up a club until this year. He’s completing the course to honor his friend killed in action.

“The person that referred me to this [program] was my shipmate, who-passed-away, [his] father,” Martin said. “Unfortunately, PTSD, survivor’s guilt and all of that kicked in… This is like therapy.”

Joe Vincent serves among the professional instructors. He, too, served his country oversees, in Vietnam.

Vincent ended every weekly meeting with a reminder—to honor and remember the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“Every lesson is important,” said Vincent.

His goal? To use a golf swing as an opportunity to save others who may be struggling.

CBS 17/Lillian Donahue

“There’s 25 or 30 veterans every day in America that commit suicide. That hurts,” Vincent said. “I try to give hope by helping the player get a better shot, that’s all I can offer.”

“It’s not an easy process and It’s not a quick process but it’s a process we can all overcome,” Martin said.

Although the 2022 class is completed, members of the inaugural PGA Hope Raleigh class will compete against other veterans in a tournament in South Carolina the week of Veteran’s Day.

First Tee of the Triangle plans to offer more PGA Hope courses next year.

Click here to learn more about the PGA Hope Program and how to get involved.