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There’s No Disgrace in Veteran Colton Hensley’s Golf Recreation

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Colton Hensley is comfy going anyplace the dialog leads throughout this practically 50-minute interview.

“I really feel like I’ve a precious story to inform individuals,” he stated.

Hensley’s story is one with many emotional layers. It begins with navy service and evolves into deployment, tragedy, problem adapting to civilian life, drug habit, jail time and an unbelievable rebirth because of household, sheer dedication and a need to get fellow veterans concerned in golf.

“There is not any disgrace in my recreation,” he says.

The 34-year-old Asheville, North Carolina native is an open e book. He now not feels any disgrace from his previous. He’ll reply any query with pure honesty, and with the assistance of his longtime girlfriend, Katrina, he’ll even fill in gaps and elaborate when sure questions change into troublesome to ask.

Hensley served as a Cavalry Scout within the Military for the a hundred and first Airborne Division from 2009-13. Whereas deployed in Afghanistan, he misplaced two of his closest pals from IED assaults – Sgt. Justin Officer on Sept. 29, 2010 and Cpl. Loren Miles Buffalo on March 9, 2011.

The survivor’s guilt was an excessive amount of to deal with. Hensley couldn’t cease eager about carrying the coffins for each Officer and Buffalo. He remembers each painful element of getting to load them onto an airplane to be flown again dwelling to the US

He was honorably discharged from the Military in 2013 and returned dwelling to Asheville. He had ACL and MCL alternative surgical procedure on his left knee, and that was his entry into drug habit.

“If you get dwelling, you begin to let your wall down, and it hits you otherwise than you anticipated,” Hensley stated. “It did not take me any time in any way to get addicted. Dropping these guys took the air out of me. I used to be finished.”

Hensley did something he may to get his palms on painkillers. He knew learn how to get as a lot as he may legally, whereas additionally shopping for medicine off the road from cash he collected by promoting stolen gadgets.

“I began hanging with the fallacious individuals and earlier than you understand it, I used to be actually crawling via individuals’s home windows to steal issues to help my behavior,” he stated. He as soon as was accused of stealing $12,000 price of things from a home that included a laptop computer, digicam, camcorder, baggage and snowboarding gear.

Hensley was out and in of a jail, however in 2014 he relapsed, violated the phrases of his probation, and was despatched to federal jail for 2 years after being charged with felony breaking and getting into, felony larceny and felony acquiring property by false pretenses.

Life behind bars was simply as terrible because it was on the streets. The worst of his keep got here after Hensley acquired right into a struggle and was despatched to solitary confinement for a 45-day stint.

“I can not say I used to be ever suicidal, however that was in all probability my lowest level ever,” he stated. “You don’t have anything to your identify, no contact with the surface world and nothing however loopy ideas going via your head your complete time.”

Though Hensley has no disgrace and guilt now concerning his previous, he skilled loads of it throughout his darkest days.

“I continually was making an attempt to make guilt go away by utilizing medicine as a lot as I probably may,” he stated. “Then I had disgrace for being locked up. Folks like me aren’t purported to be right here, however right here I’m. Now I really feel worse about my service as a result of I am sitting in jail. Lots of guys went on to do good issues, and right here I’m promoting all my stuff to pay for medicine.”

Hensley lastly acquired out of jail in early 2016 and, though he had misplaced the whole lot, burned bridges and ruined relationships together with his household, he vowed to do higher. However a number of months later, he had one other relapse. After getting pulled over, the officer observed Hensley had prescribed drugs in his possession. Again to jail he went – ​​solely this time, it actually was one of the best factor that ever occurred to him.

Kevin Rumley is this system director for the native Veterans Remedy Court docket (VTC), which makes use of a staff method to assist help veterans going through non-violent felony fees. Rumley labored with Brooks Kamszik, a court-appointed legal professional, and collectively they acquired Hensley out of jail and into an inpatient rehabilitation heart on the VA Medical Middle.

After a month there, Hensley entered the two-year rehabilitation program that, he says, was “probation amplified to 100.” He needed to put on an ankle monitor for twenty-four straight months, with common drug testing.

PGA HOPE Ambassadors and PGA Representatives (LR) which include;  PGA of America Secretary, Don Rea Jr. PGA HOPE Ambassador, Chris Cordova, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Steve Reed, PGA HOPE Ambassador, John Harvey, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Mike Jaborek, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Colton Hensley, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Justin Weglinski , PGA HOPE Ambassador, Harold Williams, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Garret Hrynko, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Hollis Burkes, unknown, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Karen Cooper, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Dan Hon, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Jeff Bojanowski, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Sean Bowman, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Jim McReynolds, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Michael Moore, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Randy Halsey, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Roth Coleman, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Troy Brin, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Dallas Brekeen and PGA Professional, Brian Jones at the East Potomac Golf Links on October 15, 2022 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America)

PGA HOPE Ambassadors and PGA Representatives (LR) which embrace; PGA of America Secretary, Don Rea Jr. PGA HOPE Ambassador, Chris Cordova, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Steve Reed, PGA HOPE Ambassador, John Harvey, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Mike Jaborek, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Colton Hensley, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Justin Weglinski , PGA HOPE Ambassador, Harold Williams, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Garret Hrynko, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Hollis Burkes, unknown, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Karen Cooper, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Dan Hon, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Jeff Bojanowski, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Sean Bowman, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Jim McReynolds, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Michael Moore, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Randy Halsey, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Roth Coleman, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Troy Brin, PGA HOPE Ambassador, Dallas Brekeen and PGA Skilled, Brian Jones on the East Potomac Golf Hyperlinks on October 15, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Picture by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America)

Throughout that program Hensley heard about PGA HOPE, a flagship navy program of PGA REACH, the charitable basis of the PGA of America. PGA HOPE (Serving to Our Patriots All over the place) introduces golf to veterans to reinforce their bodily, psychological, social and emotional well-being. Hensley had performed golf in highschool and was a very good participant, so when a possibility got here to play golf, get exterior and have it’s part of his rehabilitation course of, he was all-in.

Hensley did not have golf equipment – he had offered them years earlier for medicine. However that quickly acquired sorted out, because of Brian Oliver, a PGA Life Member who’s Asheville’s lead PGA HOPE teacher and a nationwide teacher for this system.

“If you’re round veterans, their eyes inform the story and you would see in his eyes that he was in a darkish spot,” Oliver recollects of his first assembly with Hensley practically 5 years in the past. “He wanted some assist.”

PGA HOPE Ambassador, Colton Hensley at the Congressional Country Club on October 16, 2022 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America)

PGA HOPE Ambassador, Colton Hensley on the Congressional Nation Membership on October 16, 2022 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Picture by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America)

Oliver remembers Hensley saying he hadn’t performed a lot golf prior to now, however Oliver may inform that wasn’t true. Hensley’s contact was as properly. Hensley informed Oliver that he needed to attend due to his present predicament about him, however that he was dedicated to persevering with with the teachings.

“When the six-week program was over, he stated, ‘I wish to do one thing within the golf enterprise,’” Oliver stated. “He was carrying a pleasant golf shirt, good shorts and footwear, and he was hitting photographs and targeted on why the ball was going the place it was going. He was a very completely different particular person. I knew we had tapped into one thing.”

However even Oliver could not have predicted it might find yourself in addition to it has.

PGA HOPE Ambassador, Colton Hensley at the Congressional Country Club on October 17, 2022 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America)

PGA HOPE Ambassador, Colton Hensley on the Congressional Nation Membership on October 17, 2022 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Picture by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America)

Now a 4 handicap, Hensley has continued to be part of this system, assists Oliver in recruiting different veterans – after which helps them as soon as they’re there. It is one of many many the reason why Oliver nominated Hensley to characterize the Carolinas PGA Part as one in all 20 Ambassadors to take part in PGA HOPE Nationwide Golf and Wellness Week final month in Washington, DC, hosted by Congressional Nation Membership.

“He is taking extra possession, extra management within the group,” Oliver stated. “He and I grew to become actually shut pals. It was the bond of golf that did it. He discovered golf in the best section of his life. It has been an incredible journey for him.”

Troy Brin and Colton Hensley at the East Potomac Golf Links on October 14, 2022 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America)

Troy Brin and Colton Hensley on the East Potomac Golf Hyperlinks on October 14, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Picture by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America)

Now, Hensley is an authorized golf nut. He is a provide technician on the VA Medical Middle, and that line of labor offers him direct entry to talk to veterans concerning the PGA HOPE program. He chips and putts nearly on daily basis throughout his hourlong lunch break. He is educating his 3-year-old son Noah the sport. He caddies a pair occasions per week at both Biltmore Forest Nation Membership or the Nation Membership of Asheville, and he performs about 4 rounds of golf per week however admits, sheepishly, “it is in all probability much more than that.”

Hensley plans to take the 36-hole Participant Potential Check sooner or later, with hopes of working full-time for the PGA HOPE program. He says he’d be loopy to depart the golf circle that has been so form and helped get his life again on the correct path. He desires to remain within the recreation, he desires to proceed to share his story about him – and he desires to provide again.

Colton Hensley at the East Potomac Golf Links on October 14, 2022 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America)

Colton Hensley on the East Potomac Golf Hyperlinks on October 14, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Picture by Scott Taetsch/PGA of America)

All will not be excellent, nevertheless. Hensley is aware of that it’s going to by no means be. There are nonetheless issues that should be rectified. He only recently acquired a paper from the Buncombe County Courthouse saying that each one 5 of his felony fees had been expunged, a reward for staying clear properly after ending the VTC program. However that does not erase all of the injury.

“Some relationships have been mended and a few, I do not know in the event that they ever will,” Hensley says. “However that will not maintain me from making an attempt. I acquired much more to lose now and much more to reside for. I maintain that within the forefront of my thoughts and maintain making an attempt to drive ahead.”

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