Tee It Up for Troops Kicks Off Second Year

By Kendra Yagow

August 30, 2010 Updated Aug 30, 2010 at 8:32 PM CDT

Soldiers returning home from Iraq are often susceptible to problems re-adjusting to civilian life.

Over 200 active duty and veteran members of the United States military are hitting the links at Mount Hawley-- free of charge. It's part of the 2nd annual Tee it Up for the Troops - and chairman Frank Benningfield says, it's popularity is growing exponentially.

"In our second year, which this is, we have the distinction of being the largest event, not just for Tee it Up for the Troops, but we're also the largest event in the state of Illinois," he says.

Sergeant Andre Beatty, who's already completed one tour of duty in Iraq, says his golf game isn't the greatest - but he appreciates the community's efforts to try and understand what he went through overseas. "It means a lot because it lets us know that people do support what we're doing and they don't forget what goes on. People don't realize that less than 1 percent of the population will serve in the United States military, and so the effects of war aren't felt by everybody else," he says.

It isn't just about free rounds of golf - it's also about remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and lending support to those returning home. At a memorial ceremony Monday afternoon, Benningfield announced they've raised nearly a quarter million dollars for charities and services for returning soldiers, as well as families who have lost loved ones.

"It's the outpouring of the Peoria community that has gone beyond all expectation that we are a giving society and it shows in what we've accomplished in the past two years," he says.

And Benningfield says - they're just getting started.

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