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Tournament, shootout to aid Florida veterans

By Staff | May 7, 2019

Spaces are limited for an upcoming golf tourney to benefit U.S. veterans in state nursing homes.

Hosted by Songs and Stories for Soldiers and The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, the first-ever Veterans Memorial Tournament and Veterans Memorial Tournament Shootout will take place at The Dunes on May 19. Kicking off with a 9 a.m. shotgun start, it will feature a round of golf, cart and provided lunch.

In addition, five players will each have a shot to win $1 million in the $5 million shootout.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever ventured into this area,” Dan Perkins, co-founder of Songs and Stories for Soldiers – a national non-profit corporation that first started on Sanibel – said of the tournament.

Songs and Stories for Soldiers’ mission is to assist veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and sleep deprivation, as well as help with suicide prevention. It does so by providing free, customizable electronic entertainment to members of the U.S. military, both active and retired.

Proceeds from the tourney will go toward buying MP3 players for over 1,000 veterans.

Perkins explained that the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs operates seven nursing homes, which are housed with veterans suffering from conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. In February 2018, the non-profit partnered with the Port Charlotte facility on a pilot program for the residents.

“We gave the vets, free of charge, an MP3 player that comes preloaded with an eight-hour custom-designed sleep audio to get to the REM level sleep, that’s where the body begins to heal itself,” he said.

The veterans also received two full-length audio novels for entertainment.

“We did it for 12 months,” Perkins said of the program.

It had such an impact on the lives of the recipients that after the year was up, the department asked if Songs and Stories for Soldiers could provide MP3 players at all its homes, plus two future facilities.

“The program was a success,” he said.

“Now we need to raise $10,000,” Perkins added of the tournament and needed funds.

During the event, players will have a shot at some prizes, plus there is the shootout. Also, 50-50 raffle tickets will be sold day of and mulligans will be offered for $5 each to help raise additional monies.

Following the tourney, lunch will be provided by The Dunes.

Afterward, the players are welcome to stay and watch the final round of the PGA tournament.

“If golfers want to, they can hang around after the tournament is over,” he said.

The entry fee is $48 for Dunes members and $58 for non-members.

Perkins noted that people can sign up with their own foursome or as an individual.

“We’ll try and pair people up,” he said. “We’ll work to get you together to create a foursome.”

The deadline to register is May 18.

“It’s limited to 92 players,” Perkins said, encouraging those interested to sign up quickly.

People can also sponsor a memorial sign for a tee or green in the name of a friend or family member who is a veteran, living or passed, for $100 each. All of the names will be put on a plaque, as well as preserved on the Songs and Stories for Soldiers’ website on what will be a virtual “Wall of Honors.”

“It could be a brother, could be an uncle, could be a mother or sister,” he said.

“It’s a way to remember them,” Perkins added.

To register for the tourney, contact The Dunes at 239-472-2535.

For more information about the event or the memorial sponsorships, or to set up a memorial sponsorship, contact Dan Perkins at 973-687-4826 or visit songsandstoriesforsoldiers.us.

“Right now, about every hour, one veteran in the United States commits suicide,” he said, noting that alleviating PTSD and sleep deprivation can improve the lives of those who served and are serving.

“We have a mission to get one soldier to dawn,” Perkins added.

Songs and Stories for Soldiers has helped about 130 veteran facilities across the country, and it has distributed nearly 19,000 MP3s for free. Its website offers free content to veterans, including 3 million songs, over 100,000 audio books and 30,000 radio shows from the years of 1929 to 1962, plus three additional custom-designed eight-hour sleep audios.

The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club is at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel.