Q&A with PGA HOPE Program Specialist Laura Miller, Who Has Made a Career Out of Veteran Care
March 15, 2019 by By Charles Dillahunt
Working for PGA REACH, the PGA of America’s foundation, Laura Miller serves as the lead for its military outreach program, PGA HOPE. Originally from Pomfret, Connecticut, Miller, 31, relocated with her husband, Jason, a U.S. Army Veteran, to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, in 2017, where she found a natural fit working at PGA Headquarters as a Program Specialist for PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere).
Your whole career has been centered around Veteran care. Why is this scope of work so important to you?
I belong to a big, rambunctious military family, so working in the Veteran space was a natural fit for me. Besides the obvious—being married to a combat Vet—I have always known that I wanted a career that helps people and gives back to the community. I initially found that sense of purpose working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and I feel that same drive and fulfillment working in my current role as PGA HOPE Program Specialist. I could not be happier or more grateful to continue giving back to those courageous men and women who have bravely defended our freedoms through PGA HOPE, and to have the opportunity to positively impact lives through the game of golf!
How did you end up working for PGA REACH and PGA HOPE?
My involvement with PGA REACH was serendipitous. About a year-and-a-half ago, my husband, Jason, and I moved to South Florida from Washington, D.C. Jason had a wonderful career opportunity with that he couldn’t pass up, so I quit my job at the VA Central Office, and we moved to Palm Beach Gardens. While on the job hunt, I came across a LinkedIn posting for a PGA HOPE Program Specialist position with PGA REACH. I did some research, fell in love with the mission and impact of the program, and I applied. A few interviews and one extremely nerve-wracking formal presentation later – I got the job, and I am now the PGA HOPE Program Specialist.
Why do you think it’s important that more women become involved in the workforce of golf?
It’s no secret that the golf industry is a male-dominated space. So, in that sense, I feel it is important for more women to become involved in the golf industry. And perhaps more importantly, to feel welcomed and encouraged to pursue a career in this field, because there is still such a visible gender gap. PGA President Suzy Whaley has articulated this extremely well: If young ladies can see women working in the golf business, they will be able to visualize themselves in these roles. So, as a woman in this industry—if I can help open a door for another young woman who is interested in this business, then I think that is an important and worthwhile endeavor.
What are your daily responsibilities?
As PGA HOPE Program Specialist, I oversee the day-to-day administrative operations of the PGA HOPE program at the national level. I am involved with everything from the national program budget, to program policies and procedures, to assisting and engaging with PGA Section staff, to answering phone calls and emails from Veterans interested in the program, etc. No two days are ever the same—and I love it!
What do you find most rewarding about working with Veterans through the PGA HOPE program?
My absolute favorite aspect of my job is working with the incredible team of PGA Professionals and PGA Section staff who make PGA HOPE programming a reality. The dedication and passion of these individuals are the driving force behind PGA HOPE programs nationwide, and HOPE would not be possible without their commitment to the mission of impacting lives through golf. The Veterans who attend HOPE programming have the opportunity to forge relationships with PGA Professionals, and these bonds can change Veterans lives for the better. In my role, it’s my duty to ensure that they have an opportunity to connect. And once they do, the game of golf has the power to change lives and save lives. What could be more rewarding than that?
What is it about the game of golf that makes Veterans so willing to become engaged with PGA HOPE?
I think one of the reasons that PGA HOPE is so successful and appealing to Veterans is that it is therapeutic. Golf, like the recovery process, is a challenge by choice—it’s a game where the only real competition is yourself. Golf challenges and empowers Veterans to get outside of their personal comfort zones. It continuously challenges Vets to take control of their own lives and embrace themselves at whatever level of ability they are at. Additionally, PGA HOPE introduces the social aspect of the game, reconnecting Veterans to other service members—many of whom are going through similar mental and physical challenges. PGA HOPE is a place where Veterans can feel like they belong, and [at the risk of sounding cliché] gives them hope and confidence that they can lead healthier, purposeful lives. Plus, any day spent outside on a beautiful golf course is reason enough to learn the game
How can Veterans sign up to be a part of PGA HOPE in their area of the country?
We offer a number of PGA HOPE programs nationwide. Interested Veterans or family members can learn more about the program at pgareach.org. Veterans looking to locate a PGA HOPE program near them are welcome to contact the PGA REACH team at firstname.lastname@example.org
How can people help sponsor or donate to the Program?
You can donate to a PGA HOPE program locally within a specific PGA Section or nationally across all 41 PGA Sections. Visit us at PGAREACH.org to learn more!
Follow PGA HOPE on Instagram and Facebook: @PGAHOPE.