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Golf outing raises $1,000 for disabled vets in Sharpsburg

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 5:12 p.m.
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Members of American Legion Post 106, Sharpsburg, presented the proceeds of a golf outing to Fred Tregaskes (seated), the president of the Keystone Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, also based in Sharpsburg. Standing, left to right, are Ken Mattheis, Don Brown, Ron Herstak, Pat Astorino, and Post 106 Commander Mike Haas. Post 106 and the KPVA plan to hold the event, open to the public, again in 2014.

A spring golf outing was more than just a fun day on the links for members of American Legion Post 106 in Sharpsburg.

They wanted to take a swing at helping fellow veterans, said Pat Astorino, longtime member of the post along North Canal Street.

“I had a brainstorm and said, ‘Let's try a golf outing to make some money for our guys,'” Astorino said, speaking of the Keystone Paralyzed Veterans of America (KPVA), headquartered in Sharpsburg.

They came up with $1,000, which was donated last week.

The KPVA advocates for quality veterans' health care, monitors services at VA hospitals across the state, helps shape the federal budget and encourages independence in its members, many of whom have spinal cord injuries.

The most significant undertaking is the Hospital Liaison Program, in which volunteers visit five VA sites across the state to assess services.

“We talk to fellow vets and staff and make sure they are getting the best health care they can,” said Joe Dornbrock, executive director of the state chapter along Main Street.

Dornbrock said his group uses the data to write an independent budget, which helps to shape the $68 billion VA health care spending plan.

“We're happy to have the donation, because we're always short,” he said.

“There is a real need for us to put more resources into the programs we currently have.”

The golf outing was held at Pheasant Ridge Golf Course and attracted 40 competitors. Ken Mattheis, a board member of the Sons of the American Legion, credited the community for pitching in.

The buses, beverages and food were donated, he said.

“Everything we made went to them,” Mattheis said, referring to veterans.

Astorino said the KPVA is charged with a hefty responsibility in seeing that paralyzed veterans receive benefits they deserve.

“They operate only on donations,” he said. “They need our help.”

Dornbrock said because the impact that the group has on veteran's health care isn't widely publicized, there is not broad-based support.

“There are no tax dollars involved,” he said. “We rely on the generosity of the public.”

The Keystone chapter has 290 paralyzed veteran members.

Aside from its mission to support spinal cord injury research and improve access to health care, the group lobbies for increased opportunities for sports and recreation.

In recent months, the agency has encouraged members to participate in a pheasant hunt, trap shoot and bass fishing outing.

“It's not exclusively bowling or wheelchair games. We provide a chance for veterans who need help getting out and about,” Dornbrock said.

Astorino said he plans for the American Legion to host a yearly golf outing.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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