Wednesday was a long time coming, as we broke ground in Augusta for a project started ten years ago! In August 2009, Senator Johnny Isakson (with great assistance from now Attorney General Chris Carr) hosted a meeting for our venture philanthropy (HINRI) with Georgia business, philanthropic and political leaders to launch the concept that became The Warrior Alliance (TWA). The purpose of TWA was to make Georgia a national leader in providing programs and services for veterans and their families.
Fast forward to October 2012, when HINRI’s Founder, Ross Mason, met then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. HINRI board member General (Ret.) Larry Ellis set up the meeting that helped us crystallize the mission of TWA. Ross later hosted nine meetings with representatives from the Chairman's Office and started a partnership with the Georgia National Guard, Camp Twin Lakes and our current executive director, Scott Johnson, to hold 6 to 10 retreats for military families each year at Roosevelt Camp Dream on the Warm Springs campus. We also worked to fly in and sponsor (at our expense) 35 to 50 disabled veterans from across the United States to participate in the Augusta half Ironman each year. (A few years ago, Oprah Winfrey's former producer flew down to do an HBO documentary on our program that was narrated by first Lady Michelle Obama.) In April 2013, we hosted a fundraiser at Callaway Gardens for TWA programs with the Chairman and Chief Auctioneer of Christie's who flew in from London to help us. That gave us enough money to keep the doors open as we developed our strategic plan. In November 2014, we launched the concept of the Operation Double Eagle golf program at East Lake with Jack Nicklaus, Tom Cousins and representatives from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
That brings us to this week. Thanks to generous grants from the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the Marcus Foundation, Operation Double Eagle became a reality. We are excited to be working with Landscapes Unlimited, Vincent Design, Augusta Technical College, and Augusta University to provide training and employment for veterans with barriers to employment. The development of the Double Eagle Performance Center is Phase I of a larger project to renovate the Augusta Municipal Golf Course using a trained veteran workforce. This site will establish a world-class apprentice facility for veterans to learn features construction, irrigation, turf management, horticulture and many other aspects of course development and renovation. The center will be used for ongoing skills development to continuously produce a “job ready” veteran workforce for numerous industries in need of a talented and dedicated employment pool. We’ve already talked to numerous projects around the country that want to hire our graduates.
This could not have happened without Senator Isakson, General Larry Ellis, Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis and the Augusta City Council, Coach Clint Bryant, Scott Johnson and the staff of The Warrior Alliance, our donors and many, many others who feel strongly about supporting and honoring veterans and their families in Georgia and across the country. Thank you!