Therapy on the Golf Course - Orlando VA Healthcare System
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Orlando VA Healthcare System


Therapy on the Golf Course

"I found a family here.” - Mr. Furtado

By Andrea N. Madrazo
Friday, March 12, 2021

An open bright green golf course under the Florida sun may sound like a scene from a dream, but for Paul Furtado, U.S. Marine Vietnam Veteran, and Amir Pishdad, Jr., U.S. Navy SEAL Veteran, it is their new found hobby and what they refer to as ‘therapy.’

The Heroes United Golf Scramble League (HUGSL) partnered with the Orlando VA Healthcare System Adaptive Sports Program to offer what Veterans have come to discover is more than just a good game of golf.

It is hard to believe that Mr. Furtado and Mr. Pishdad were once told they would never walk again. Today, no longer wheelchair bound, the duo stands tall swinging golf balls down the driving range.

Veterans learn swinging motions, targets, and tips — but most of all, they learn what lies deeper than what the surface will reveal. Surrounded by those who have walked in similar boots, it is inevitable for bonds to grow as Veterans reach each hole throughout the course.

Mr. Furtado has found what he believes to be better than any medication a Doctor could prescribe. He says, “Everybody needs something other than themselves to deal with their own problems. The nightmares may never end, but golf is a cure. Golf stimulates me and has helped me to learn who I am. I found a family here.”

Family on the golf course comes with pats on the back, encouragement before each swing and of course camaraderie. That is what the VA Adaptive Sports Program is all about!

"The game of golf challenges me to be a better person and a better Veteran.” - Mr. Pishdad

Golf brings peace to the minds of Veterans and a sense of freedom. Their disabilities are no longer at the front of their minds when they get their hands on golf clubs.

Golf clubs healed Mr. Pishdad mentally and physically. He says, “When I am out on the golf course with Veterans, I no longer feel pain. Golf helps me to recover mentally and physically. The game of golf challenges me to be a better person and a better Veteran.”

It is not about becoming a professional or who gets the most holes, it is about the shared laughter and support that exists beyond the golf course. Said best by Mr. Furtado — “You can’t beat nature. Golf is my serenity.”

This partnership proves that Veterans with disabilities are just as capable. To think once wheelchair bound Veterans are now playing golf on their own two feet goes to show anything is possible, in golf and in life.

What are you waiting for? Grab a pair of sneakers and a hat, all you have to do is show up – The VA and HUGSL will take care of the rest.


Learn more about how to challenge yourself → VA Adaptive Sports & Therapeutic Arts website.


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