From The New York Post • by George Willis

Cristie Kerr remembers the days when she was younger and her dad, a retired veteran of the Vietnam War, would be nearby in a deep sleep “shouting orders at people.”

There were no diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder back then. In fact, there were no “Welcome home” ceremonies and few other signs of support. The experiences her father went through are why Kerr, one of the top players on the LPGA Tour, was at Liberty National in Jersey City yesterday hosting about 50 servicemen and women for a Memorial Day of golf, food and fun.

“I’ve always felt a responsibility to do whatever I could to support the troops whether playing in a pro-am or whatever,” Kerr said. “We have to do things like this to show that we’re behind them and the community is supporting them or what’s the point of them going off to war? The least I can do is give a day of my time.”

Her dad, Michael Kerr, was at her side yesterday, proudly wearing his Vietnam Veteran’s hat, and bathing in the support shown to the military personnel in attendance.

“Being a vet, this is extremely important to me,” he said. “Quite frankly when I came back it was disappointing. People were looking at us like, ‘OK, you were in the war, but we didn’t want you there and we don’t care if you’re back.’ The American people have to realize that these men and women put their lives on the line for our children and our children’s children. It really warrants people saying thank you to the servicemen and vets.”

Golf outings are becoming a highlight of Fleet Week as servicemen and women were also hosted at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck and Eagle Oaks Country Club in Farmingdale, N.J.

“A lot of us are doing the job we want to do. We’re doing what we volunteered to do,” said Capt. Joshua Atkinson of the USMC. “But it means a lot to know that we’re supported. To come to the city of New York that was part of the devastation of 9/11 and hear someone say ‘thank you’ means a lot. We get the rock-star treatment every day up here. I just wish I could share it with my wife.”

Kerr, a member of Liberty National, put the event together with the help of fellow member Greg White, who works on Wall Street. Fittingly, proceeds from yesterday’s outing went to the Wall Street Warfighters Foundation, a non-profit organization that mentors and trains disabled veterans who have an interest in the financial industry.

Through an in-residence program based in Philadelphia, selected applicants enter a six-month course to prepare for the Series 7 exam, which is the financial industry’s equivalent to the bar exam following law school. Thirty-six vets have passed through the program and found jobs.
Katie Haddock, Executive Director of the Wall Street Warfighters, said vets make ideal employees.

“They’re team builders and they’re problem solvers,” she said. “They’ve been decision makers under pressure with strong integrity. Every day they know what they have to do to get the job done. They don’t rattle. All of those skills are a strong basis for what finance services need and require every day.”

Kerr, the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open champion and the top American money winner in LPGA history, will compete in the Shop Rite Classic beginning Friday near Atlantic City. It was easy to put her career in perspective yesterday.

“I may be a pro golfer,” she said, “but these guys are the real heroes to put their lives on the line to serve our country.”