American Lake Veteran’s Golf Course

By: Capt (ret) David Van Pay

As an avid golfer, I’ve played nearly all the public golf courses in western Washington. One of the neat courses I’ve played is the American Lake Veteran’s Golf course, Lakewood, WA. The front nine holes is old school. Wide open fairways with tiny greens. The back nine was designed and built by Jack Nicklaus a couple years ago. The back nine plays like a resort course that holds your attention on every shot. The most amazing part of this story is the mission and the all-volunteer staff who manage and operate the course for its Veteran patrons.

The mission of the American Lake Veterans Golf Course is to provide affordable services to veterans, active members of the armed forces and their legal dependents. Green fees for 18 holes of golf are $15. The annual fee is $200. Fees are waived for disabled and elderly veterans. Other services with no fees include golf lessons, mobility impaired golf carts and golf equipment donated by the public. Donated used clubs are refurbished and given to interested veterans. Last year, they issued over 1600 sets of clubs to local veterans.

Programs and events include Blind Rehab training, golf equipment and golf tournaments for the blind. They also organize “Down Range” reunion for disabled golfers, wounded warrior tournaments VA hospital in-patient picnics and programs for homeless veterans. They also gather Christmas presents for VA Hospital in-patients.

All these programs and the care and maintenance of the golf course are managed by 230 dedicated volunteers. There are no paid employees. A volunteer kitchen staff purchases and prepares food enjoyed by golfers playing in various tournaments throughout the year. Other food service programs include food for VA Hospital in-patients and homeless veterans and their dependents.

Since 2004, Friends of ALVGC have provided over $7 million worth of improvements to the golf course, including buildings, a $1.4 million Rehab Learning Center which includes a golf simulator. They also installed a $600K irrigation system and purchased 12 mobility impaired golf carts. They also obtained 72 new golf carts through donations from local golf courses, service clubs and private people.

The course is the only ADA compatible golf course in the country and has equipment and facilities to assist disabled veterans learn and enjoy the game of golf. The “Friends” are currently raising funds to extensively modify the old front nine holes to better accommodate mobility impaired golf carts and improve grounds maintenance.

In May 2017, the VA signed over the golf course to the Friends of ALVGC. The group continues to maintain the golf course and equipment and programs in an exceptional fashion. Truly a labor of love for this amazing group of veteran volunteers.

The Evergreen-Ron Blatman Chapter recently donated a set of golf club to the “Friends.” In turn, they will pass the clubs onto a needy veteran who has an interest in playing golf.

If you or your chapter has an interest or want more information, check out their “Friends” on their website at


By Rick Fulton , (Part 1 of a 2 part series)

A bug out bag in the car trunk or bedroom closet is a first priority kind of grab and go kit, for immediate use the first two days of a disaster, and then as a building block for a longer period, if needed.

What should be in a bug out bag? The very first item is an inventory list inside, right on top. You immediately know what you have to work with.

Be the injury major or minor, you need a first aid kit in a plastic box which is sufficient to the needs of addressing anything that is immediately life-threatening. Commercially available kits may need to be somewhat supplemented with additional triangular bandages, a thorough first aid handbook and a large nail clipper

Disposable space blankets -- Small flashlight with extra batteries -- Zip lock bags

Sealed food bars -- Plastic ponchos -- Gel type ballpoint pens and small notebook

Extra money -- Wire saw (good for creating small pile of tender to light fires)

Multi tool -- Fire starter, plus lighter or storm proof matches kept in a plastic container

100 foot of para cord -- Blue plastic tarp for shelter -- Required daily medications

Survival whistle -- Life Straw water filter to drink from puddles (be careful with this)

Roll of duct tape -- Plastic trash sacks (Many purposes shelter or ground cloth)

Cell phone/charger -- Portable radio -- Compass -- Emergency blankets (disposable)

Soap/Sanitizing wipes -- Playing cards -- Folding shovel -- Collapsible hiking pole

Photo identification card for each person. Taped to it is a piece of paper, should be laminated, which has blood type and next of kin information, plus the home address.

A plastic bottle or container for fire lighting items such as disposable lighters or matches which can double as water bottle.

A firearm? Very much a personal choice, as long as you are familiar and comfortable with being armed. With modern ammunition now available, even a .22 caliber pistol can be adequate for snakes, protection against dogs and other similar-sized wildlife, and for signaling. There is room in the bag for fifty or more shells, plus what is in the loaded weapon. Keep the gun in a belt holster, and don't take it out unless it is for a last resort situation.

All these things fit in a day pack. Packs come in a variety of sizes and prices, but are generally inexpensive. Check and make sure you can carry it on your back. The situation might require you to make a hike. Remember, not everything goes inside the bag. A rolled tarp can be tied to the handle, and most bags have places for water bottles.

This list is intended as a starting point for a bug out bag, concerning what fits best for your local circumstances. You can certainly add as you believe is warranted, but just remember weight, and also remember this is intended to keep you and your family or group going for just a couple days. After that, there will be help coming to you.

Final point: Always know where the bug out bag is stored, and every now and then, use the inventory list, and give it a quick check. If you need it, above all else, keep the faith.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The author, an AFSFA member, was part of the Hurricane Katrina recovery mission in southern Mississippi for five months, immediately after the storm came ashore.

An Air Force first — a Sikh in beard and turban graduates at Lackland

Airman 1st Class Sunjit Singh Rathour stood out in the crowd as he graduated Thursday from Security Forces training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

It was inevitable, given that he was the only airman in Team 36 wearing a beard and a turban as he crossed the stage.

“To be honest, it went in the blink of an eye,” he told reporters. “It felt amazing.”

To read more:


CSAF Charts Air Force Defender Way Forward in the Year of Integrate Base Defense
By Alex Delgado, 502 ABW Public Affairs / Published October 02, 2019


Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein addresses Security Forces Defenders, past and present, at the 33rd Air Force Security Forces Association national meeting banquet in San Antonio 28 Sept 2019, in San Antonio, Texas.


Joint Base San Antonio, Texas - Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein discussed the Air Force’s transition from Year of the Defender to Year of Integrated Base Defense, focusing on how elite Defenders fit into a layered defensive network, in a speech at the 33rd National Meeting of the Air Force Security Forces Association in San Antonio Sept. 28.


Goldfein began by speaking about the beret worn by Air Force Defenders. “That beret represents those who are the best in the world at integrated base defense,” he said. “Elite Defenders…wearers of that beret guard our nation’s treasures and it is our sacred duty to protect them.”


Goldfein announced The Year of the Defender a year ago, “which led to the Reconstitute Defender Initiative,” he said.


But it was a serious security incident at Royal Air Field Mildenhall, England, where an individual was able to drive onto the flight line and ram into an aircraft before he was apprehended, that got the program moving.


“A challenge was turned into an opportunity,” said Goldfein. “We took a good hard look at ourselves in the mirror and determined that we had gone for way too many years without investing in our elite Defenders as a foundation of who we are as a globally engaged service.”


“So we re-focused on proficiency and small unit tactics,” he added. “We increased our investment in our Defenders with $180 million in new equipment just last year.”


RDI encompassed new training, new tactics, techniques and procedures, and a renewed expeditionary focus.


“We’ve made great progress, but we have miles to go,” said Goldfein. “And I will commit to you that we are not going to take our foot off the gas.”


Goldfein referenced the annual Wing Commander Conference he recently hosted, where he engaged with 280 warriors for two days talking about the business of warfighting and leadership.


There, Goldfein shared his vision where an Alpha Warrior Operational (physical) fitness program will be directly associated with the tough business of base defense, along with daily weapons marksmanship training. “I’m not talking about once or twice a year,” he said. “I’m talking about every day, because confidence in our primary weapons comes from repetition.”


Goldfein went on to say that building state of the art ranges at each base would be unattainable, but that there may be answers in being creative and expeditionary at home.


He referenced a shoot house built by the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hulburt Field, Fla., which was built from steel and plywood for about $18,000, and is used daily with live rounds.


“We have got to get creative to get our Defenders more trigger time and work on proficiency and competence with their weapons,” said Goldfein. “And I don’t want you to wait for me to move out on this; as I told the wing commanders; I trust you, go long, I’ve got your back.”


Goldfein went on to emphasize the importance of his message. “We’ve got to be laser focused on combat proficiency because the threat is outside the wire right now as we sit here,” he said. “They are sizing us up, looking for weaknesses in our lines; what we want them to determine is that we are just too hard a target to penetrate.


“I want them to see the beret and know that they are up against the best and are doomed to fail,” he added.


“So we’re going to build on our progress from The Year of the Defender to focus on how elite Defenders fit into a layered defensive network,” he said. Our Defenders should be looking at the entire integrated base defense network that included sensors well beyond that fence line to get a sense of the operational environment.”


“Every Defender should be connected; A walking server, a node in a network that senses and shares data and communications at the speed of relevance against the threat.”


Goldfein went on to define what some current and future threats look like. “So now it’s time to prepare for the next attack that will likely include cyber operations, hybrid warfare, Special Forces and enemy drones.”


“It’s your creativity, your ingenuity, your innovations and your courage that are going to help us prepare for that fight,” he added.


“This is one thing I can look at each and every one of you in the eye tonight with absolute clarity, we have from this moment until that fight starts to get our forces ready,” he said. “And we should treat every week as the last week of peace, and an absolute blessing.”


Goldfein closed by addressing Defenders in the audience. “So to our Defender team here tonight past and present, and your justifiably proud families,” he said. “What an honor it is for me to be part of this special evening, I could not be prouder to serve with each of you as your chief when our country needs us most.”


Front Range Chapter Carries the Torch for Special Olympics Colorado Summer Classic

By CMSgt (ret) Joseph “Mitch” Mitchell, Front Range Chapter Chairman

No, this wasn’t the first time Security Police or Security Forces ever participated in a Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR). And, it was far from a first-time LETR event for Special Olympics Colorado involving members of the U.S. Air Force. But, here’s what made this event unprecedented; August 24, 2019 marked the first-ever Law Enforcement Torch Run sponsored solely – as well as organized, by the Air Force Security Forces Association.

Late last year, AFSFA became an Affiliate with the Law Enforcement Torch Run/Special Olympics International (see article in Jan-Mar 2019 issue). And, it was a very proud occasion when only a short time later the Front Range Chapter was presented with the opportunity to help organize an event with Special Olympics Colorado.

The pride of each one of the torch bearers was visibly evident on their faces – especially after completing their long early morning run. AFSFA Executive Director John Probst was on hand driving a support van and later related: “Air Force Security Forces Association, the professional association for all Air Force Security Forces – Active Duty, Guard and Reserve, is proud to be a partner with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.” And, the performance by our torch running Security Forces set high expectations for future LETR events.

LETR was started by Wichita, Kansas Police Chief Richard LaMunyon in 1981. Today, nearly 110,000 law enforcement members carry the “Flame of Hope” annually. The flame symbolizes courage and celebration of diversity uniting communities around the world. Today the LETR has become the Special Olympics’ largest public awareness and fundraising group for athletes and people with intellectual disabilities.

Several Front Range Security Forces Defenders expressed their own perspectives on being a part of this movement that is making huge improvements in the lives of some amazing people. Brittinie Alvarez from 50th SFS at Schriever AFB, expressed her feelings this way: “From the start, you could see all of the SF runners ready – the first bit was an easy run. Then the gradual incline and it was a bit tougher. We weren’t running for ourselves though, we had a purpose. And when we were joined by the athletes, it was very sweet.” And, it was apparent that the Special Olympians and their families and friends were positively affected by the sharp formation of Security Forces members delivering the “Flame of Hope.”

Susan Foege, Special Olympics Colorado, commented about the torch runners and their impact on the opening ceremonies, “The excitement in the crowd grew as we announced and saw the arrival of the torch and your group. Watching and hearing the group call military cadence as they came towards the cauldron drew a huge round of applause. Then, as the torch was handed off to the athletes, your group filled in to provide them with support and cheer them on.” She went on to express how much our Security Forces torch runners added to the excitement, energy and support to the Summer Classic. From her perspective as Director of Competition, “The torch run and lighting of the cauldron is one of the most spectacular parts of our Opening Ceremonies.”

Another aspect that made this such a special LETR was the level of involvement, cooperation and overall support the event received. Starting with the AFSFA National Headquarters, site host USAF Academy athletic staff, as well as the individual runners and the units they represented – all combined for successful execution of the challenging feat. The AFSFA Front Range Chapter, along with Security Forces members from Peterson AFB, USAF Academy, and Schriever AFB – as well as all the way from Buckley AFB came together to make the first AFSFA sponsored Law Enforcement Torch Run a big success.

But, be assured this is only the beginning of a wonderfully promising partnership between the Law Enforcement Torch Run/Special Olympics International and AFSFA. Special Olympics Colorado has already asked the Front Range Chapter to work with them at their 2020 Summer Classic.

And, when you get the chance to participate in a LETR, or other Special Olympics activities, do not pass up the opportunity. The experience may just make a difference in your life as well.

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