Wounded warriors overcome disabilities, tee off

Chris Carlsen, U.S. army Vet who lost his leg. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

STERLING, Va. — Sherman Gillums knows firsthand the difficulty of being a veteran on the road to recovery.

“I started in the Marine Corps at age 17 back in 1990. I suffered a traumatic brain injury due to service in 2002,” explains Gillums.

He now heads the group PAVE, an organization that helps veterans get back in track after serving.

“We work to provide career opportunities for any veteran who wants to work, says Gillums.

His organization benefits from money raised at Monday’s Paralyzed Veterans Golf Open. The event in Sterling at Trump National Golf Club took in more than $300,000 last year. Gillums expects this year’s tournament to top that figure.

Over the past five years, the event has raised more than $1 million.

“We got over about 250 golfers, 33 of those are paralyzed veterans and wounded warriors,” explains event chairman Rich Brooks.

“This is all about veterans today,” he says.

Some severely injured service members use a machine that lifts them up in a vertical position above the golf ball.

“You can get a full swing,” says David Zurfluh, a former member of the Air Force who was seriously hurt in a car crash.

Zurfluh can walk now, but for years he was confined to a wheelchair and used the specialized golf chair.

“It was pretty close to playing golf like I did before I was hurt,” he says.

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