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Lowcountry Foundation, PGA TOUR Wives Association host Operation Shower as part of RBC Heritage

April 12, 2018

By Doug Milne, PGA TOUR Staff

For Brooke Brennan, it’s about the kids. It’s the confused look in their eyes, it’s the languid body language. With no concept of time, her children don’t have an understanding of when daddy will be coming home again. They know only that he’s gone.

Brennan, wife of Marine Staff Sergeant Matthew Brennan, is expecting the couple’s fourth child. On Wednesday of this week’s RBC Heritage, Brooke was seated in a room at the Sea Pines Country Club with a myriad of other like-minded women who understand her struggle all too well.

For the first time in South Carolina, Operation Shower honored 20 military moms-to-be with a group shower. Lowcountry Foundation for Wounded Military Heroes teamed up with the PGA TOUR Wives Association and “Birdies for the Brave” for Operation Shower’s 105th event.

“This is the first shower that has been done here in the low country, which is incredibly exciting for us,” said Russ Spicer, Chairman, Lowcountry Foundation for Wounded Military Heroes. “It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to give back to those who serve our country. We’re humbled and grateful for the chance to do that.”

Founded by Spicer, Lowcountry Foundation for Wounded Military Heroes helps service members returning home from combat with serious injuries and disabilities get reacclimated to civilian life. In just seven years of existence, LFWMH has already donated nearly $1 million to various charities supported by Birdies for the Brave.

Since its 2007 inception, Operation Shower has now hosted 105 showers and more than 5,000 moms affiliated with all branches from the military.

In addition to lunch, the honored mothers received Operation Shower’s signature “Shower in a Box,” which included quality items for the moms and babies. The afternoon event was hosted by Alicia Malnati, vice president of fundraising for the PGA TOUR Wives Association and wife of PGA TOUR member Peter Malnati.

While military service is unparalleled in terms of honor and nobility, beneath the surface there are the true struggles of extended time away from home, feelings of loneliness and overwhelm. The hardships of deployment are not just felt by the ones being deployed, but by those being left behind.  

“I think most spouses would agree that it’s hardest on the kids to adapt and overcome,” said Brooke Brennan. “As parents, we do what we have to do to survive. But, for the kids, it’s very hard to see the pain in their faces when you tell them that dad won’t be coming home today. They don’t get lengths of time, so they don’t understand. For a lot of us, it’s trying to keep our kids happy and healthy and make sure they don’t have the stresses that we have.”

“Brooke has been a huge support for our entire nine years together and I could never do what I do without her,” said husband Matthew. “Being here with her today for this is very special. We don’t really get a whole lot, so we really appreciate something like this.”

“The partnership with the PGA TOUR Wives Association is amazing for us because it helps with family readiness. Family readiness is just as important as mission readiness,” said Lieutenant Chris Woodard, Chaplin. “If our soldiers, sailors and airmen have one less thing to worry about, it helps them to accomplish their mission. So, to have partnerships like this to support us and these soon-to-be moms and dads is phenomenal. There is a price tag to military service that transcends any numerical value.”

“This kind of things help so much, because a lot of people think military people make a lot of money, but we don’t,” said Sara Lichtey who, now a navy wife, was once active duty herself. “So, receiving things like they are providing us here today really does help so much.”

“We wouldn’t have the opportunity to do what we do without our military,” said three-time PGA TOUR champion Scott Stallings, who was in attendance Wednesday. “So, any opportunity I have to say ‘Thanks’ is one I want to take. We need to really shine a light on the services they’ve given for all of us and our freedoms.”

While certainly among life’s greatest and most-cherished memories, having a child is also a stressful time and brings with it added challenges and new obligations. Add in a spouse who is deployed and those challenges can be exacerbated. The goal of organizations like Lowcountry Foundation for Wounded Military Heroes and Operation Shower is to not only alleviate some of those stresses and concerns in the form of gifts, but to shine a little light upon those families through its strong network of support.    

“This is my first Operation Shower and I am really excited to be here,” said Stacy Hoffman, PGA TOUR Wives Association member and wife of four-time PGA TOUR champion Charley Hoffman. “We think it’s tough when our guys are gone for three to four weeks, but I cannot imagine being a military spouse. They sacrifice so much for us and our safety and well-being. So, it’s wonderful to be here today to help all these new moms or moms-to-be while their husbands are supporting us from abroad.”

“This is an amazing charity for us to partner with. We love what Operation Shower does,” said Brittany Kisner, PGA TOUR Wives Association vice president for Membership. “These are the women who are married or partnered with the men who are making the ultimate sacrifice. They’re either deployed or are being deployed. As moms, we know life can be kind of crazy, but they have a totally different level of stress and so we are incredibly grateful for the sacrifices they make for us. To be able to shower these moms and babies is just a little way to let them know how appreciative of them we are.”

As gifts are being handed out and women talk amongst themselves, Brooke Brennan’s eyes scan the room. She rubs her stomach and takes a deep breath. Committed in all ways, she smiles. Confident of the depth of love and support in and beyond the room, she knows deep down her family will be good, especially her kids.

Photos courtesy of Nadia Hurtt Photography.

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