What is one golf ball worth to a U.S. soldier stationed overseas, a wounded warrior making her way through injury rehabilitation, or a veteran of foreign service?
When it comes from Bunkers in Baghdad, it represents a comforting slice of home and a gesture of appreciation for the sacrifices made by the men and women of our military.
Now multiply that by 8 million to get a sense of this charity’s growing impact.
Bunkers in Baghdad, the nonprofit that collects and ships golf equipment to active-duty U.S. troops, wounded warriors, and injured veterans across the world, recently passed the 8 million golf ball milestone. The equipment — all of which is donated by corporate and individual supporters and shipped through money raised by the charity — provides a recreational outlet for troops in stressful overseas service or a valuable and enjoyable aid for physical therapy and recovery from injuries.
“When Bunkers began its mission, I don’t know if I could have even imagined getting to where we are now,” says founder and president Joseph M. Hanna. “Eight million golf balls in just under nine years — this is a testament to the generosity and respect that so many people and businesses around the country have for members of our military. I’m proud that we’ve reached this milestone, but I’m even more moved that so many have come together to show their support for the brave men and women who risk their own lives to protect us and our freedom. It has been awesome to experience, and it only makes us stronger in our resolve to keep growing so we can reach more and more soldiers and vets.”
Bunkers in Baghdad began in 2008 when Hanna, a partner at the law firm Goldberg Segalla, sent a box of golf balls to troops in Iraq after learning that golf had become a favorite form of stress relief for soldiers serving in combat zones overseas. He has grown the 501(c)(3) charity into a global network that reaches soldiers in 65 countries and wounded warriors in all 50 states. The group has also shipped more than 600,000 golf clubs since its inception. Hanna has been featured in Golf Digest, on Fox Sports 1, and in other media outlets.
The organization’s supporters include a number of professional sports franchises, former U.S. presidents, and several of the biggest names in golf, including Callaway and Topgolf. Thousands of volunteers have helped collect equipment and raise money to pay for ever-growing shipping costs.
Through its Bunkers Buddies program, the organization partners with 500 schools nationwide to engage students in community service and support for troops and veterans. Participants hold equipment drives and write letters or draw pictures to add a personal touch to the shipments being sent overseas.