Skip links

Rebuilding & Restoring Military Lives Through Golf: Links to Freedom to Expand to New Locations

For most golfers, the game is a welcomed respite from everyday stresses. However, for participants in Links to Freedom, the game means much more. As Veterans Day approaches, there are currently more than 3.7 million disabled veterans in the U.S. Many of them are struggling to find a sense of normalcy and reconnect with civilian life and their families. Links to Freedom was formed to implement rehabilitative golf programs at military and civilian golf facilities nationwide to help aid in that struggle.

The Need

Wounded warriors and disabled veterans spend much of their time in therapy, typically in a clinical setting. Many are left on their own during the weekends, often without family members, and living in a facility with windows that only open four inches due to the fear of attempted suicide. They are not only compromised with injury, but they are often times fearful of what life looks like in this new situation. Their worries are not only physical or emotional, but often financial as well, as they adapt from being a career military member to being medically discharged. Issues like job skills, finding a new career and supporting families are heavy burdens for a service member to bear. In addition, their family members are fearful of changed behaviors, and the fact that they “just aren’t the same person they were when they left.”

Leading the Way

Co-Founder and Executive Director of Links to Freedom Steve Greiner is the 2016 recipient of the “PGA Patriot Award,” which bestows special recognition on a PGA Golf Professional who personifies patriotism through the game of golf and demonstrates unwavering commitment and dedication to the men and women who have valiantly served and protected the United States of America.

In 2008, Greiner founded a wounded warrior golf program at the Fort Belvoir Golf Club. At his own initiative, and without any compensation, Greiner started to give individual lessons to the soldiers who were part of the Fort Belvoir Warrior Transition Unit. In the spring of 2009, the program was expanded into a “group clinic” format that could then handle more participants each week. Today, the program consists of sixteen weeks of two-hour instruction along with a playing program Monday through Thursday year round.

According to Greiner, injured service members participate in an activity that is tailored to support their adaptive needs upon discharge or during their rehabilitation as an active duty member. They are immediately welcomed into the golf program and can begin to build a sense of identity in their local communities. Their family members also participate at no charge in order to spend time together and to reestablish the emotional relationships and communication needed to heal. Also, by building relationships with others at the golf course, they develop a social and professional network to help gain employment and enjoy a sense of community.

Communities are able to give back to those who have given so much. By volunteering to help with the program, or donating food or services, communities can be strengthened. Programs like Links to Freedom also bring attention to an often overlooked community and can have financial benefits by sponsoring events and other activities that support our veterans, survivors and their families.

Fort Belvoir, Andrews Air Force Base and Beyond

Currently, there are two 16-week programs that run simultaneously in two locations: Fort Belvoir Golf Club in Virginia, and The Courses at Andrews in Maryland. The 16 weeks are divided into two 8-week sessions, one each in the spring and fall.

Since the program’s inception, Links to Freedom has helped more than 1,200 participants including spouses, caregivers, children and the families of those killed in action. President Barack Obama, a frequent visitor to the program, recognized the program during the White House President’s Cup Ceremony in 2014. Jack Nicklaus visited the program in September 2013 and recognized Links to Freedom in his speech before Congress upon receiving the Congressional Gold Medal. The PGA of America has recognized it with numerous awards, including recognition of Greiner as the 2016 recipient of PGA of America National Patriot Award.

Links to Freedom is working to grow its program nationally. In upcoming years, the program will expand to Salt Lake City, Baltimore, San Diego, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Tinker Air Force Base. Rob Koon, co-Founder and chairman, emphasizes the need for additional funding. “We’re very excited to be a part of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) this year, but we’re afraid we will not be able to support the demand for additional programs without appropriate funding.”

There are several ways to support Links to Freedom. Donors can contribute through the CFC campaign (CFC#34245), Amazon Smile or directly through the Links to Freedom website.

For more information, visit