DAV and Simcakoski Foundation to open Tomah VA Golf Course

BY: BOB KLIEBENSTEIN, STAFF WRITER – MONROE COUNTY HEARALD

As a military veteran recovering from injuries Rob Hilliard remembers playing golf daily on the nine-hole Tomah Veterans Medical Affairs course.

Hilliard also remembers the day a decision was made in 2014 to close the golf course after its long history on the Tomah VA campus. With help from the Jason Simcakoski Foundation, Hilliard and other veterans will be able to play the course in the near future.

Greens on the course need to be seeded and will require ample time for growth. The hope is to have it ready to play by the fall. Dignitaries including Congressman Ron Kind and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, hit ceremonial shots from the first hole tee box.

A groundbreaking was held Friday, April 26 to announce the agreement with the foundation, Tomah VA and Disabled American Veterans (DAV) to re-open the course later this year after some time to “nurse up the greens,” said Hilliard, along with some other grounds work.

“The opening depends on getting the greens re-seeded,” Hilliard said. Simcakoski’s family was unwillingly thrown into the national turmoil regarding over-prescribed opioids for veterans when Jason Simcakoski died of an opioid overdose while being treated at the Tomah VA. Hilliard, director of the Wisconsin DAV Foundation, has worked closely with the Simcakoski family to re-open the course as a tribute to Jason Simcakoski and therapy activity for veterans at the Tomah VA.

The project was aided with $20,000 from the foundation. Marv Simcakoski, Jason’s father and foundation president, donned sunglasses thanks to a sun splashed blue sky, but also to hide tears as he recalled playing the course with his son.

“It gave me a chance to get him outside, to get him doing something, to get him enjoying the sunlight and fresh air instead of sitting inside,” Simcakoski said.

“That therapy helped him, it really did. It was a good thing for him and it’s going to be a good thing for everybody in the future. We cherished the time playing on the course.”

The course will be named the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Golf Course in Jason’s honor.

“I know Jason is proud of what we are doing, to get the job done,” Simcakoski said.

Once the course is open DAV volunteers will handle much of the groundwork duties, according to Hilliard. It will be open for the public to play.

When Tomah VA director Victoria Brahm assumed her duties she heard one
message from veterans.

“The number one thing was to get the golf course open,” she recalled. “I could not be more thrilled with this.”

DAV Department of Wisconsin Commander Mike Hert said the project fulfills a twofold mission. “The course will touch the life of VA patients and preserve the memory of Jason,” Hert said.

“Marv and Jason spent time on this course for a father and son to build that cherished bond.”

L-R Marv Simcakoski, Simcakoski Foundation President; Rob Hilliard, DAV WI Foundation
President; Larry Hill, DAV State Adjutant; Vicki Brahm, Tomah VA Medical Director
L-R Marv Simcakoski, Simcakoski Foundation President; Rob Hilliard, DAV WI Foundation
President; Larry Hill, DAV State Adjutant; Vicki Brahm, Tomah VA Medical Director
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