Donation helps veterans 'Segway' back into life

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Valley golf tournament took a time out on Monday to honor veterans suffering injuries from Operation Enduring Freedom.

Before tee off at Fort Washington Country Club, DAV Charities of Central California and Segs4Vets gave three veterans a brand-new Segway. Monday afternoon's golf tournament honors the late Cindy Aoki. She died of breast cancer, and her husband wanted to honor veterans in her memory with local organizations.

"It's important to understand that the disabilities of veterans is far different from some of the other disabilities of the general population. And we want to honor these folks, but we want to keep them as mobile as possible," said George Steese with DAV Charities of Central California.

Money raised from the tournament will go to DAV Charities of Central California. The charity organization then works with Segs4Vets. From there they look for veterans who need assistance after suffering physical injuries.

"It's really helpful in every aspect of daily life. Something that somebody sees as normal, it's not normal for me; it's harder for me," said Lt. Antonio Tinajero, a Marine.

Lt. Tinajero was injured during Operation Enduring Freedom back in 2011. He suffered a traumatic brain injury when the vehicle he was riding in was hit by an IED. Several seizures made it difficult for him to walk and made the transition back into civilian life rough.

"It's so often the case that when our disabled veterans leave the military and they go home, they go back to a community that doesn't understand them; they don't know who they are," said Jerry Kerr, CEO of Segs4Vets.

Both organizations have veterans who work for them and know firsthand the importance of making life normal again for soldiers after deployment.

"This allows me to take that normal that used to be normal and make it normal again," said Lt. Tinajero.

DAV Charities of Central California says the search is already underway to honor veterans at next year's golf tournament.
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