Virginia natives golf in Warrior Open
By CATHY DYSON | The Free Lance-Star | Published: October 1, 2012
Two servicemembers from the Fredericksburg region recently participated in the 2012 Warrior Open in Dallas, a golf tournament for those severely wounded in the global war on terror.
After the first day of the two-day event -- sponsored by former President George W. Bush -- Jason Searles from King George County and Thomas J. "TJ" Brooks from Westmoreland County were tied for 13th place.
By the end of the two-day tournament, Searles held his No. 13 spot and Brooks finished 16th.
Searles and his wife, Stephanie, are from King George. He's an Army staff sergeant based in Colorado Springs and served two deployments in Iraq before a tour in Afghanistan, where he stepped on a land mine in August 2011.
Searles' right leg was amputated below the knee, and he sustained deep soft tissue wounds on his left side.
He's been through more than 15 surgeries and skin grafts and hopes to return to active duty until he is eligible for retirement.
Brooks, a Marine Corps sergeant, played in the Warrior Open for the second time and also competed in the AT&T National Pro-Am in Washington in June.
He's from Tappahannock, and his wife, Keri, is from Hague in Westmoreland.
Brooks did two tours in Iraq before he headed to Afghanistan in September 2010 for what turned out to be his final deployment. On Jan. 21, 2011, he stepped on an improvised explosive device.
His right leg was amputated to the knee, and he suffered severe tissue damage to his left leg and broken bones in his left foot.
Brooks began walking six weeks after his injuries and began playing golf again three months later.
Searles and Brooks both received Purple Heart medals. Brooks also earned a Navy Achievement Medal for valor.
Golf has become part of the rehabilitation process for those injured on the front lines, according to the Wounded Warrior website. Participants focus on something besides pain and recovery and are able to hone movement and motor skills.