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'The most fun that I have': Revelation Golf lets veterans rediscover joy and purpose

'The most fun that I have': Revelation Golf lets veterans rediscover joy and purpose
'The most fun that I have': Revelation Golf lets veterans rediscover joy and purpose 02:13

WHEATON, Ill. (CBS) -- The best medicine doesn't require a pill, but instead, some clubs and a fairway.

There's a therapeutic golf program is helping military veterans rediscover joy and purpose. CBS 2's Jackie Kostek joined a Chicago area golf program for its season tournament.

"It's the most fun that I have," said Michael Love.

On a beautiful but blustery fall day at Cantigny Golf Club in Wheaton, Love and more than 20 other military veterans are finding warmth in the wide-open fairways.

"The more I play, the better I get, the more fun it is," Love said.

Joy wasn't something Love had felt much of for the better part of the past 15 years while in the throes of substance use disorder.

"I was dealing with some injuries. I had broken my back in a car accident pretty severely and I was addicted to painkillers. It was going pretty bad for me," Love said.

Out of the Air Force, Love was in and out of treatment for about six years until finding a program that he says worked for him at the VA in North Chicago. There, he met Donna Strum and her therapeutic golf program, Revelation Golf.

"When they told me about it, I was like 'wow well I golfed as a kid, I'd love to get back into it.' It had been ten years. And it was awesome," Strum said.

Strum, the founder and executive director of Revelation Golf said this is the best non-pharmacological approach to healing. Out on the golf course, she said veterans are free from pressures, distractions and the trauma of what they've experienced. They can simply absorb the beauty of nature and focus on the ball.

"My father was in Korea and I know that in so many ways, he looks down and just absolutely feels the joy of what we're able to give to other veterans, and active duty," Strum said.

A therapist by trade, Strum partnered with an LPGA golf pro to start the program 17 years ago. They help veterans where they are - whether they're dealing with a physical disability or a less visible one. The goal: to give veterans an outlet, a fresh start through golf.

"There's nothing more emotional than having somebody step away from the range and have tears and say, 'I feel like I'm coming back to who I once was,'" Strum said.

Now three years sober, Love knows what it feels like to come back to yourself. And the joy his family feels in having him back too.

"I was watching a movie with my parents and I looked over and they were both staring at me and I was like, 'what are you guys looking at?' They were just so thankful that they got me back as a healthy person that they were just crying."

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