TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club saw nearly 100 golfers rally to their course Monday to participate in the 2023 SOF Missions Warrior Golf Classic, an annual fundraising event supporting the nonprofit’s free, yearlong healthcare programs for veterans. With more than $65,000 raised throughout the day, the funds will be used by SOF Missions to conduct their Be Resilient Clinics, a one-week medical intensive bringing together healthcare professionals and wounded veterans to combat the alarming rate of veteran suicide in the U.S.
Now in its fourth year, the scramble featured hole challenges with prizes—including a 2023 BMW 430XI Coupe from BMW of Wesley Chapel—as well as an awards ceremony and raffle.
SOF Missions is scheduled to host eight in-person Be Resilient Clinics in Tampa and at satellite locations throughout Florida throughout 2023, all of which are free of charge to veterans regardless of branch served, military occupation, or discharge status.
With more than a quarter million dollars raised for The Resiliency Project through Warrior Golf Classic events to date, SOF Missions Founder Damon Friedman says the fight against suicide by servicemembers is just beginning.
“Just a few years ago, veteran suicide was at its absolute worst. Veterans accounted for nearly 14 percent of suicides in America in 2018, but made up only 7 percent of the U.S. population. That was my first indication that something had to be done,” said Friedman, a retired Lieutenant Colonel within the Special Operations community with 20 years of service. “While veteran suicide has fallen by nearly 10 percent since then, it’s still an ongoing epidemic. We need to keep this momentum going so we can mitigate—and one day eliminate—veteran suicide altogether.”
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 2022 report on veteran suicide, studies show that suicide is the second leading cause of death among veterans under the age of 45, with suicide killing more veterans in 2020 than COVID-19.
Established in 2021, SOF Missions’ Be Resilient Clinics are a weeklong medical wellness initiative designed to help wounded veterans assess, treat and overcome challenges brought on by military service and combat, including PTSD, chronic and acute pain, sleep issues, isolation, stress, and moral injuries.
Following the Be Resilient Clinics, veterans are enrolled in a year-long program, where they receive coordinated and collaborative care that includes 30-, 60- and 90-day re-evaluations with an SOF Missions’ medical director, as well as regular follow-up care from medical professionals in the community where the veteran lives.
Under coordinated care, veterans are given access to whole-health, holistic treatment plans through a national network of non-profit organizations, health care providers, and partnering companies to provide treatments, services and resources to veterans in their local area.
Through collaborative care, SOF Missions connects warriors with employment, housing, educational, and legal assistance, as well as care kits, referrals, resources, and financial aid.
SOF Missions has served more than 250 veterans and active-duty servicemembers with clinical care and more than 2,500 through coordinated care, contributing over $3,000,000 in treatment services to veterans.
According to Friedman, the program was established based on his personal experience of being a wounded veteran.
During four combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, Friedman suffered five concussions and numerous ailments resulting from combat-related injuries, but because of his status and value within the military, Friedman received priority treatment from EXOS’s Accelerated Return to Duty program, healing alongside professional athletes and other high-profile patients.
After receiving this exclusive, top-of-the-line treatment, Friedman became determined to provide the same level of quality care for all veterans who wanted it, leading Friedman to retire from the military in 2020 and focus on growing SOF Missions.
Since starting SOF Missions, Friedman has been presented with the Spirit of Hope Award by the Department of Defense, as well as the Lightning Foundation’s Community Hero Award for his ongoing service to the veteran community.
Active-duty military and veterans interested in taking part in The Resiliency Project program can find more information by visiting www.sofmissions.org or by calling 813.920.0012.
About SOF Missions:
SOF Missions was established in 2011 as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization by Dr. Damon and Dayna Friedman. Damon, a retired Lt. Colonel within the Special Operations community, served for 20 years. He knows firsthand the challenges warriors face, having served on four combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. Our team believes we are called to be Freedom Fighters. Our mission is to combat the veteran suicide crisis.