Colemans Calling: How One Veteran is Lending a Hand to Others Through Golf

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Game Changers

Colemans Calling: A Veteran Lends a Hand Through Golf

By Jay Coffin
Published on

It took 67 years, but Roth Coleman feels like he’s finally found his calling.
“One thing I can say about the service is that despite some of the things I’ve been through, despite some of the places I’ve been, the service really matured me,” Coleman says. “I’ve struggled with my own personal demons but got the help I needed. Everything I’m doing now is just icing on the cake.”
The Marine Gunnery Sergent (1978-1999), who is now retired, has been playing golf for a while. He took up golf late in his military service out of boredom. Since then he’s played in Memorial Day weekend buddies trips for the better part of 25 years, played some of the best golf courses in the country, attends as many big golf events as he can, has built an indoor hitting bay in his house and, as he put it, is addicted to the pursuit of getting better.
“It may never happen,” he quips. “But I enjoy it immensely. It’s a calming pleasure in my life.”
Instilling Hope in Veterans
Coleman still works full-time, but retirement is coming. He’s a production manager for General Electric Aerospace based out of Florence, Kentucky, and is in charge of a team of 40 mechanics that go all over the world and service aircrafts for numerous airline companies. They have a large shop that repairs engines and ships them back to customers.

Coleman was jet-lagged after just returning from Qatar, where he had been part of a group looking at ways to fix GEnx-1B engines. The session tested cutting-edge technology that allowed a robot to be sent into an engine that had cracked during flight to spray a coating to make it look new.
Coleman still has time to dedicate to the PGA HOPE Program at his beloved World of Golf facility close to his Florence home. Ralph Landrum, PGA Master Professional, has been a long-time adopter of Veteran programs. He has also worked closely with Coleman in the past few years to assist with the recruitment process. PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere), is a PGA REACH flagship military program. It is the charitable foundation of PGA of America. It introduces veterans to golf to improve their mental, physical, and emotional well being.

Roth Coleman, a 22-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, is our new PGA HOPE Kentucky Ambassador. Roth was joined by other Ambassadors from all over the country at Congressional Country Club in Washington D.C. last weekend to… (1/2).

— Golf House KY ⛳️🏠 (@GolfHouseKY) October 19, 2022

Roth Landrum, a former PGA Tour player who played in 11 majors — including the 1978 Masters as an amateur and 1983 U.S. Open at Oakmont, where he tied for eighth — during the late 1970s and early ‘80s hosts three six-week programs at World of Golf each year and says that Coleman is an invaluable asset.
“We’ve got the location, the perfect facility and the enthusiasm for the program,” Landrum says. “What we needed was the Veterans. Roth stepped up and has been so supportive. When they hear from a peer, it means more than when they hear from somebody like me.”
Coleman stopped by Landrum recently to inform him that he has 18 Veterans who are ready to sign up to the spring program. It’s one of the many reasons why Coleman was selected to be the Kentucky PGA Section’s PGA HOPE Ambassador, which means he was one of 20 veterans chosen to participate in the program’s National Golf and Wellness Week last October in Washington, D.C.
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“He has a big smile and he loves the game,” Landrum says. “We could use 20 more of him.”
After combat, finding meaning
Coleman was born and raised in Boston. His family moved to Washington, D.C., as a child. He loved football and played it in college. He wasnt necessarily on the right path. His father pulled him aside for a talk.
“He said, ‘Son, you have to get some direction,’” Coleman recalls. “So I walked down to the recruiting station and ended up in the Marine Corps.”

Coleman served 22 years in Marine Corps.
The 22-year career took him “everywhere I ever wanted to go and then plenty of places I never planned on going to.” Coleman spent seven months in 1987 in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War escorting oil tankers while aboard the USS Raleigh. Operation Earnest Will saw helicopters from the Raleigh deck capture an Iranian boat that was digging mines in the waters. They were immediately taken into custody and Coleman was appointed to oversee the well-being.
“Being younger at the time you’re not used to seeing your first combat action,” Coleman said. “It was an experience.”
He returned to the Middle East in 1990 as part of Operation Desert Storm. Coleman was part a LonesomeDove team that lived in a Saudi soccer arena for almost 10 months. The team was building a 10,000-foot runway for the U.S. to launch operations.

PGA HOPE has given Coleman an avenue to meet other Veterans, like at last falls PGA HOPE Golf & Wellness Week in Washington, D.C.
Coleman suffered from the effects of his service. When he was ready to leave the Marines, 1999, he had just remarried after a failed marriage.
“Assimilating back into the civilian world was hard for me,” Coleman admits. “I was used to structure and discipline, and I didn’t have that. It took me almost five years after I got out to finally sit down and talk to somebody about my combat experiences and medical issues.”
Now, most things are under control. He still has issues sleeping, loud noises are understandably troublesome but he’s learned how to deal with the PTSD as best he can. He’s been a referee for high school basketball games in Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky for nearly 30 years, he has three grown daughters, his work at GE Aerospace keeps him mind fresh and, in his free time, he helps with logistics and recruiting for the PGA HOPE program at World of Golf.
Coleman, 67, is very busy. But he wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s found a purpose within his place in the game that he never dreamed he’d find.

Coleman receives some tips from Dave Stockton, a two-time PGA Champion.
“I’ve met a lot of guys in the PGA HOPE program who just want to sit down and talk because they know I’ve had similar experiences,” Coleman says. “They don’t understand how soothing it is for me to be able to talk to someone else on the same level.
“I’ve always been trying to figure out my calling and how to give back. This is my calling.”

Click here to learn more about PGA HOPE or find a program close to you. Here.

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