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National Veterans TEE Tournament

Finding Independence

Photo of Army Sgt. Kristian Cedeno

When Air Force Veteran Jack Rupert arrived in Iowa City for the National Veterans TEE Tournament, he wasn’t sure what to expect.

"I’ve played golf off and on for 25 years, but this was my first time coming here," the Minnesota native said. "Let me tell you something, it’s wonderful." More than 240 Veterans, many of whom are visually impaired like Rupert, took to Iowa City for a week of golf, horseback riding, kayaking, horseshoes and most important – camaraderie.

"Back home, we don’t have many opportunities for blind golfers," he said. "I’m lucky that I have a friend that will help me out. I get out a few times each summer, but a lot of people don’t have that chance. It’s something that we are trying to get going back home; to give more people the chance to get out golfing."

The independence of playing an individual sport such as golf appealed to Rupert, who despite being deemed legally blind in 2009, maintains a very active life balancing golf, wood working and leather working.

"Golf gives people a great sense of accomplishment and sense of self, so it’s perfect for people who are trying to get out and be independent,” he said. “It gets me out of the house, gets me some exercise and gives me the chance to visit with people I wouldn’t get the chance too otherwise."

Being at the TEE tournament was also an inspiration for Rupert, who saw and met a number of Veterans overcoming a wide range of medical conditions.

"Events like this provide a lot of inspiration; to see other Veterans who are worse off than I am competing and being active. I figure if they can do it then I can do it," he said.

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