By Morgan Taylor, Reporter
CHECOTAH, Oklahoma – On April 24, Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s Fountainhead Creek Golf Course opened the course for the Freedom Balls Charity Golf Tournament hosted by Eagle Ops organizations in partnership with Mission 22 to raise awareness for veteran suicide prevention.
Eagle Ops Difference Maker, Golf Coordinator and Army Veteran Zach Walker, claims that this was the first co-beneficiary tournament held by the organization and first time to use MCN facilities.
The charity event attracted 144 players that made 38 teams. All fees were donated to both organizations and veterans played for free.
Representative of Mission 22 and Muscogee (Creek) citizen Michael Coon spoke on behalf of his late son Michael Keith Coon.
“I didn’t know how to take veteran suicide though I knew he was going through depression,” Coon said. “After three deployments he was trying to get through it but still he ended up taking his life.”
Because of partnerships between the MCN and Mission 22, Michael Keith Coon’s memorial will be erected at the Broken Arrow Military History Center on May 8. The 1,000-pound silhouette will be unveiled of Coon and other fallen soldiers to suicide on behalf of Mission 22.
According to Coon, Second Chief Del Beaver helped advocate for the organization. Beaver was in attendance and spoke about the collaboration.
“I knew this was something we had to get behind as a tribe,” Beaver said. “We are fully behind what Michael is doing and we are fully behind our veterans. On behalf of the Creek Nation we support you (veterans) and what you have sacrificed.”
“It doesn’t go unnoticed and it doesn’t go unappreciated. We love you guys.”
Beaver asked those veterans in attendance to always reach out for help.
“Whatever we can do to help you; Please reach out to us and we will do what we can.”
As a part of the event introduction, Eagle Ops “runs three pillars” to kick off the tournament.
One of the pillars was to take an oath that participants said together.
“I promise to my fellow service members, veterans, and families that when facing my demons I will not take my own life, but I will reach out to my battle buddy because the battle cannot be won alone.”
“To connect veterans to resources is our number one goal,” Walker said. “To reach one more.”
Resources for veterans can be found at mission22.org, eagleops.org, or contact MCN VASO.
These organizations hold events that bring veterans together, connect them to resources, and allow them to get involved in their communities.