Planet Golf — 06 May 2017 by Bob Sherwin
Golf provides help for military warriors

KENT, Wa. — It has been nearly 13 years since Major Ed Puido sustained extensive physical injuries and emotional pain after his Humvee rolled over a improvised bomb in Iraq.

To get back to a ‘new normal’ after the loss of his left leg and resulting depths of depression, Pulido found an unusual source.

“I used golf for recovery,” said Pulido (pictured, left, with Wash. Open defending champion Jeff Coston), making the healing transition from the battlefield to the playing field.

This week, Major Pulido (ret.) made a quick trip from his home in Oklahoma City to Seattle to promote a golf tournament, the 91st Washington Open Invitiational, sponsored by Muckleshoot Casino. The event will be May 22-24 at Meridian Valley Country Club but what really sparked Pulido’s involvement is the Pro-Am, May 20-21.

The proceeds from the Pro-Am will be donated to the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides educational scholarships for spouses and children for fallen or wounded soldiers. Last year the event raised more than $60,000.

The PGA’s Pacific Northwest Section is one of 41 throughout the country but it’s caught the special attention of the military because of its commitment to wounded veterans. Pulido takes part of these types of events to bring attention and assistance to veterans who need help.

It was Pulido who needed special care on Aug. 17, 2004 after the explosion. His leg knee cap was shattered as he was rushed through medical treatment facilities, undergoing 17 hours of surgery. He eventually was brought him to a hospital in Germany but a pair of infections in the leg stymied his recovery. He went from 195 pounds to 118. Doctors finally had no choice but to amputate the leg from the knee down on Oct. 1.

He was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal but they offered little solace to his dark mood. He called it “a deep depression of a soldier’s spirit.” It wasn’t until he was fitted with a prosthetic leg that allowed him to move around – even to play golf – that he felt whole again and dedicated himself to helping fellow veterans with disabilities.

Not only has been part of Folds of Honor for the past nine years but he also is the founder of Warrior Nation, a movement focused on the rights of liberty and patriotism, supported by an autobiography “Warrior for Freedom: Challenge, Triumph and Change, the Major Ed Pulido Story.”

“I play for the men and women who fought for our freedom,” he told the gathering at the Meridian Valley press conference.

The Folds of Honor has raised more than $9 billion to provide scholarships for dependents of fallen and disabled service members. Pulido’s two daughters, Kaitlin and Kinsley both have benefited from FOH scholarships.

The Pro-Am will be a 30-team, two-day affair with a dinner Saturday (May 20) evening.

The three-day, 54-hole tournament starts Monday (May 22). Jeff Coston of Semiahmoo G&CC is the defending and five-time champion. No one has ever won the tournament more than five times but Coston will have to do it on one good leg. He suffered a torn Achilles tendon on Dec. 8 while playing basketball. He’s been on an accelerated rehab program and may even have to use crutches between shots to get him through the three-day event.

Coston said he’s a “one-legged grandpa” now but he’s going to give it his best shot.

“This is a tournament that means a lot of me,” he added.

No more than Major Pulido and his fellow veterans.

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Bob Sherwin

Bob grew up in Cleveland, an underdog city with perennial underdog teams, and that gave him an appreciation and an affinity for the grinders in golf, guys such as Rocco Mediate, Jhonattan Vegas and star-crossed John Daly. This is the 49th year for Bob as a sportswriter, the first 34 working for newspapers throughout the west, Tucson (Daily Star), San Francisco (Examiner) and Seattle (Times), and the past 15 years as a freelancer. He has covered just about every sport, including golf tournaments, Tucson Open, Bing Crosby/AT&T Pro-Am, the 1998 PGA Championship, the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, the 2010 U.S. Amateur the 2015 U.S. Open and the annual Champions Tour Boeing Classic. He also writes articles for golf magazines. For most of his 20 years at the Seattle Times his primary beat was the Mariners. He then picked up Washington men's basketball in the winter. He also was the beat writer for the Sonics, including 1996 when they played the Bulls for the NBA title. After a lifetime hacking on public courses, he finally gave in and joined a country club in 2011, the Members Club of Aldarra near Seattle. Despite (or perhaps because) of his 14 handicap, he won the 'Super Senior'' (65 and older) championship in 2017. He has a pair of aces – 37 years apart – and in 2009 came agonizingly close to his ultimate golf goal of scoring in the 70s when he finished with an even 80. He lives in Seattle, and spends part of his winters in Marco Island, Fla.

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