Tug McGraw Foundation


News & Events

February 22, 2017

PART 1 of 3: An Intergenerational Day with An Admiral, A SEAL and an Angel

Yountville-Residents of the Veterans Home of Yountville, California received a bit of surprise last Friday- three very special visitors from Washington DC and Virginia Beach.
Admiral Winnefeld and Mrs. Meeting John Lew

Ret. Admiral James Winnefeld, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Mrs. Mary Winnefeld together with human performance expert Alex, owner of Virginia High Performance paid a visit to the veterans home while visiting the Tug McGraw Foundation (TMF) for their Walking With Leaders Discussions.


Jennifer Brusstar, CEO of TMF, said: “One of our greatest strengths as a charity is our ability to connect people and share resources. These individuals are incredible avocates for military healthcare providing an intergenerational experience for the home, staff and community that shares their knowledge is in Tug's words, a homerun.”

Photo: Admiral Winnefeld, Mary Winnefeld met by Home vet and TMF Mixed Nutt player, John Lew.

The day started bright and early at 0730 with a community Intergenerational Breakfast Talk at the Home's main dining room with leadership from the community and the Napa Valley College Baseball Team (NVCB). Upon arrival, Yountville's, Mayor John Dunbar, the Home's director, Don Veverka, Home resident and TMF’s Mixed Nutts player John Lew greeted the special guests. Photo: Jim Treadway and Bob Hurley



Throughout breakfast, the Winnefelds, the baseball players, and Alex rotated tables visiting with senior veterans and the dining room staff. One very special moment was when Jennifer was pulled aside from a home member and in a very shy voice whispered, " Do you think the Admiral would say hello to me? I'm a WW II vet." She smiled and said, "That's what he's here for…to see you!"

The Admiral immediately came over pulled him aside and a very special conversation was had. Photo: Admiral and WW II Residents and below the Vet that asked to say hello!


Tug McGraw's teammate from the Phillies and Baseball Coach for NVCB, Warren Brusstar, said: "Having the opportunity for our team to have breakfast and engage in conversations with the vets gives them a deeper understanding in why we get to play baseball everyday, it’s because of their sacrifices.”

After breakfast and with excitement the baseball team, the vets, locals Jim Treadway, Bob Hurley and Tug's cousin Frank Henderson huddled together much like a sports team would to hear Alex speak. Not just an expert in enhancing physical and mental performance but a Navy SEAL who helped develop the Human Performance Program to increase physical, mental and sleep performance within Naval Special Warfare. After being with the Teams for 21 years, Alex has taken his expertise and continues to pay it forward with his "No Fail Mission" program. A program designed to help recovering vets get back in shape or get past any limitations they may have sustained in combat.


The Intergenerational Breakfast talks were doing exactly what TMF hoped it would. Be a social vehicle that offers younger and older generations the opportunities to interact and become engaged.


The chairs in the room drew closer and closer as Alex spoke about physical performance and the importance in having good character. Drawing them in one by one. Then the element of surprise happened, Alex turned the tables on the baseball team and threw out a dagger of a challenge to them. “I’ve toured this campus and there is a bowling alley here. I think you green horns need to come out and bowl with the vets here. Get to know them and share stories." Smiles broke out and instantly young voices, were saying, "yes, when can we start?" Photo: Alex and Lorelie Magalong, Food Service Supervisor

Mission accomplished, the baseball team is creating a league of their own, Alex's Green Horn Bowlers.  First baseman, Kurtis Bluford and TMF are in conversations with the Home in developing an Intergenerational Bowling League that will meet 2x a month.

Photo: Back Row: Jim Treadway, Coach Parker, Admiral Winnefeld, Jack Brusstar, Alex, NVC College Team, Warren Brusstar, Frank Henderson


The Tug Mcgraw Foundation is helping to support Alex's program by providing travel for a veteran's family member or support person while he/she is attending his No Fail Mission Program. The vets support system plays an important role in continued recovery. Having a support member in attendance for the last week of the program helps bridge, strengthens, and reinforces the good work that has been accomplished and a foundation to carry it on.


Coming Up Next Week Part 2: The Admiral and the Angel


Tug McGraw Foundation's One Seat Today To Further Tomorrow Program: provides travel on American Airlines for healthcare providers and students to grab a seat at various conferences with leading experts addressing the most relevant, cutting edge, education and practices on brain-related trauma and tumors.  Our goal is to maximize collaboration opportunities and to further education for Healthcare Providers, students and individuals engaged in sustaining and advancing evidence based treatments for civilians, veterans, military personal, and their families that are affected by brain-related trauma and or tumors.



January 12, 2017

TMF's Pilot Success "One Seat Today To Further Tomorrow" To Open in Feb

As we begin to layout the foundation for our work in 2017, it is important to reflect, review, and share the impact of our programs and partnerships. Below are the highlights and outcomes from sharing TMF resources and connections with the Navy SEAL Foundation's (NSF) Whole Warrior Health Forum. Because of the feedback and the impact it had for both students and health care proivders from the NSF conference, TMF’s, One Seat Today To Further Tomorrow, will continue to provide travel on American Airlines for healthcare providers and students in 2017. Those selected will be able to grab a seat at various conferences to further education with leading experts addressing the most relevant, cutting edge, education and practices on brain-related trauma and tumors. As a pilot,  TMF transported 10 students and health care providers to the Navy Seal Foundation's Whole Warrior Forum. TMF will open applications in February for 2017 Conferences. If you would like to be on the application list for travel in 2017, email us at info@tugmcgraw.org.


December 22, 2016

Congrats to our Photo Winners

View The Winners


"This is a blast! Thank you for this fstop program and all you do for those with Brain related issues!! "Ya Gotta Believe"! Merry Christmas to all at The Tug McGraw Foundation. Jaci Gordon


" I had to dig out some of my old phones for this. It's been fun! Thank you for doing this. I have always enjoyed photography but never shared outside of Facebook." Kayla Smith



December 7, 2016

Joe Biden the mid-reliever hands the ball to the closer with 21st Century Cures Act
Cancer Moonshot: The Doctor Giving a Fighting Chance to Patients

The Senate passed an extensive medical funding bill Wednesday, sending it to the desk of President Barack Obama, who says he'll happily sign it.

It was a rare demonstration of unity in a Congress badly split by politics and usually determined to thwart any initiatives coming out the White House. But the $6.3 billion legislation easily passed the Senate in a vote of 94-5.


The measure pays for some of Obama's pet projects, including the Cancer Moonshot that Vice President Joe Biden leads.

"This bill will make a big difference, and I look forward to signing it as soon as it reaches my desk," Obama said in a statement.

The 21st Century Cures Act has been two years in the making and it was one of the most heavily lobbied pieces of legislation in recent history. It pays for cancer research, pays to fight the epidemic of opioid abuse, funds mental health treatment, helps the Food and Drug Administration to speed up drug approvals and pushes better use of technology in medicine.


Related: Some Win, Some Lose From Medical Funding Bill

"We are now one step closer to ending cancer as we know it, unlocking cures for diseases like Alzheimer's, and helping people seeking treatment for opioid addiction finally get the help they need," Obama said.



"Third, it invests nearly $3 billion to build upon the major biomedical research initiatives we have launched in my administration - known as the BRAIN and Precision Medicine Initiatives - which are tackling diseases like Alzheimer's and creating new research models to find cures and better target treatments," Obama said.

The praise came pouring quickly from industry and medical societies more accustomed to seeing funding bills stall for months or even years in the very badly divided Congress.

Related: House Passes Cures Bill

"The remarkable bipartisan, bicameral support for the 21st Century Cures Act proves that congressional lawmakers are serious about the need for scientific research, effective care-delivery, and the removal of barriers to scientific progress," said Dr. Daniel Hayes, president of theAmerican Society of Clinical Oncology.

It includes $500 million a year to help states prevent opioid misuse and get better treatment for addicts. "These additional resources are particularly critical in rural areas, where rates of opioid misuse and overdose are high, access to treatment is limited, and patients who seek treatment are often met with waitlists that can mean the difference between life and death," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.


Related: Lobbyists Had A Big Say in Cures Bill

The bill provides especially detailed instructions to states for boosting mental health care, which most advocates agree is badly neglected across the country.

"This legislation will improve the lives and health of countless Americans," said American Psychological Association President Susan McDaniel. "It will increase access to effective, evidence-based care, particularly for those with serious mental illness."



Not everyone loves the act. For one thing, it takes cash from a public health initiative meant to help people prevent America's biggest killers: chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.


"The Trust for America's Health is deeply disappointed Congress will utilize the Prevention and Public Health Fund as an offset for the legislative package known as 21st Century Cures," said Rich Hamburg, interim president and CEO of the group.


"Cutting the Prevention Fund will limit the nation's ability to improve health and quality of life and prevent disease. This is the nation's first and only substantial investment in moving from our current 'sick care' system to a true preventive health system."


November 13, 2016

We're Back April 15, 2017!


The North Texas Community Giving Foundation, in partnership with The Tug McGraw Foundation, is excited to present the second annual Texas Big Star Half Marathon and 5K on Saturday, April 15, 2017. What started last year as the first endurance running event for the City of Frisco continues this year with an all-new course and Start/Finish. Of course, our wildly popular post-race Finisher Fest and beautiful medals and runner recognition awards return. The second year of this race is sure to be bigger and better than the first and something you do not want to miss.  80 percent of funds raised for the Tug McGraw Foundation will benefit Texas Based Non-profits working with brain-related trauma and tumors through a call out for funding request.www.runtexasbigstar.com













Sign Up to Run/Walk/Virtual/Wheelchair/Handcycle with Team McGraw Texas Big Star Frisco, TX,






  • Registration Fees Covered
  • No Minimums
  • Team McGraw t-shirt 5K or Virtual
  • Team McGraw singlet 1/2 Marathon
  • Personalized Fundraising Web Page
  • Fundraising Incentives and Awards
  • Team Photo
  • Team McGraw Race Tent Lounge
  • Bag Check at Team McGraw Race Tent Lounge


**Incentives for registered Team McGrawParticipants Only




  • $100+ Team McGraw Shoelaces and Baseball Bracelet
  • $250 + Team McGraw Beanie
  • $500 + Team McGraw Frisco Tek Jacket
  • $1000 + Tug McGraw Cuff Bracelet
  • $2500 +  Two (2) Tickets to
  • $5000 + Two (2) Tickets on American Airlines Round Trip (Coach) with two (2) tickets to see a U.S. Soul2Soul show in 2017.











5K Run, Walk, Handcycle, Wheelchair

$60 Includes Team McGraw T-shirt and Registration Fee

5K Virtual, Run,Walk, Handcycle, Wheelchair

$60 Includes Team McGraw T-shirt and Registration Fee

1/2 Marathon, Run, Walk, Handcycle, Wheelchair

$90 Includes Team McGraw Singlet and Registration Fee

I Just want to run the Texas Big Star no Team McGraw t-shirts or Incentives


October 28, 2016

A TX Surprise: For Friends who Climbed Mt. Rainier for Brain Cancer & TBI
Maj. William Denn III, of Albany, N.Y., was recognized by the Tug McGraw Foundation for his philanthropic efforts.
A 2016 Command and General Staff Officer Course graduate set out with two others last spring to climb the highest peak in the contiguous 48 states to raise awareness for brain cancer and traumatic brain injury.Maj. William Denn III, of Albany, N.Y., was recognized by the Tug McGraw Foundation Oct. 22 in Dallas, Texas, for his philanthropic efforts.
Denn and two climbing partners climbed Mount Rainier in Washington in June and raised $15,000 for TBI and brain cancer research. Denn is currently attending the Advanced Military Studies Program at the School of Advanced Military Studies. He graduated from the Command and General Staff Officer Course in June earning the General George C. Marshall Award as the distinguished graduate.Denn said the most important result of the climb was raising awareness of TBI and its devastating effect on soldiers.“The stigma associated with (post-traumatic stress disorder) and TBI follows someone as they continue in life,” he said. “People need to understand where it comes from and how it affects people.”Planning for the climb began in the fall of 2015, he said. During the planning phase they realized they wanted to make the effort bigger than themselves. TBI was a natural selection for Denn because of its effect on soldiers. His climbing partner lost his father to brain cancer early in life so the two agreed on the TBI and brain cancer focus.

They decided on the McGraw Foundation because of its work in the area and began fundraising in January. Denn said about 150 people contributed to TBI and brain cancer research through the climb.
In June, Denn and his partners ascended the mountain along with a guide from Rainier Mountaineering Inc. and reached the summit on June 26. Despite two weeks of blizzard conditions that prevented other teams from summiting, the weather improved dramatically for Denn’s climb. The final leg of the climb began at midnight underneath a clear view of the Milky Way and involved technical pitches with ropes on ice and rock. Because of an equipment failure, Denn had to stop just short of the summit but the rest of his team were able to carry the Tug McGraw Foundation banner to the top.
The climb was a personal victory for Denn. He and his climbing partner, Josh Stiefel from New York, had attempted a climb in Bolivia the previous year but Denn became ill with myocarditis, a viral heart inflammation that led to medical evacuation back to the states and a year of follow-up with heart medication.“It was humbling, to be at the peak of physical fitness and after successfully serving through multiple deployments to be felled by this infection,” Denn said.
Denn met Stiefel while attending graduate studies at Harvard in 2013, and they have been climbing together since. He began climbing as a serious hobby ealier while stationed in Colorado.
Josh, Ava, Officer Manager at TMF who tracked their every step, and Will
Josh, Tim and Will Celebrating Their Great Victory at Sky Ball as the guests of Tug McGraw
SOURCE: Harry Sarles | Army University Public Affairs

August 24, 2016

TMF's New Pilot Program-One Seat Today To Further Tomorrow

One of the most rewarding things for us at The Tug McGraw Foundation is when we achieve our mission to improve quality of life for those affected by brain-related trauma and tumors.


Over the past ten years, I’ve had the honor and privilege to meet some of the brightest minds in brain science and always in awe of their passion and dedication to their field.  While attending a conference this past spring, I always like to scan the room to appreciate the amount of talent and committed people, who day after day tackle the many challenges in brain health care and research. As I took in my final glance, a flood of thoughts came racing through, “ which brilliant and talented minds will be sitting in those future seats?”


To further advance, innovations, treatments, cures, services, and quality of life in brain science and care, It’s imperative for us to keep those seats filled today and tomorrow.  Seats that are a conduit to inspire learning and provide further education for the current and the next generation of frontline health care providers, researchers and leaders. The Tug McGraw Foundation is proud to announce our pilot travel program with the Navy SEAL Foundation and American Airlines to fill seats today to further tomorrow.  Jennifer Brusstar, CEO





TMF’s One Seat Today To Further Tomorrow provides travel on American Airlines for healthcare providers and students to grab a seat at various conferences with leading experts addressing the most relevant, cutting edge, education and practices on brain-related trauma and tumors.  Our goal is to maximize collaboration opportunities and to further education for Healthcare Providers, students and individuals engaged in sustaining and advancing evidence based treatments for civilians, veterans, military personal, and their families that are affected by brain-related trauma and or tumors. 



Travel Seats Now Open to the Following:

Doctoral Psychology students enrolled in an APA (American Psychological Association) Accredited Program, LCSW, ACSW, Registered MFT Intern, Licensed MFT, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, and Licensed Psychiatrist (CE Credits Available)  Click here, to Apply for Travel


Take a Seat for the Following:



Navy SEAL Foundation Collective Impact Forum 2016



Event Date: November 1-2, 2016 Location: Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego

Applications must be received by September 15, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. PST

Incomplete or late applications will not be considered


View Program and Speakers





















August 11, 2016

TMF's Diamond in the Rough that is Bridging Community

We are proud to share with you the highlights and outcomes of our 2016 Baseball Season. As many of you know, TMF is located on the grounds of the Veterans Home of California, Yountville. This incredible place is home to nearly a 1000 veteran residents. A place that was very familiar to Tug McGraw and why TMF had a calling to be there-the Veterans and the diamond it possess-Borman Field. The Veteran's Home of Yountville is home to one of our nation's most beautiful baseball field and a field of dreams Tug loved to play on.


The mission of this program is to improve quality of life by bridging, veterans and community through America's favorite pastime-baseball. We aim to educate the community about the Veterans Home of Yountville, California (where we are based), Build relationships, Empower residents, Increase outdoor exercise for home's residents and Inrease intergenerational social activities for residents.


TMF's Jennifer Brusstar struck up a conversation with a resident sitting on a Bench with a New York baseball hat on.  She asked the man, "Are you a Mets fan or Yankee?" He said, "Yankee."  From that conversation on, the 93 year old veteran resident from New York enlightened her about this Mixed Nutts Team that plays on the campus here. What shocked Jennifer, is he furthered went on to say he is a currently playing on the team and that she should come at watch sometime.    At that moment it was if she heard Tug screaming from the fields of heaven,  “Jenn go see what this is all about-this is crazy awesome!” When she arrived to see this group of "Mixed Nutts" which they have named themeselves, she simply could not believe what 40 residents had created on their own, or as she said, "a league of their own."


"Two years later, The Tug McGraw Foundation is the extra lift in their wings to help them achieve and fly further.  "If he were with us today,  would be smack dab in the middle of each game with these guys. They truly have his “ Ya Gotta Believe” spirit.  With the simplicity of a bat, ball, and glove, this team demonstrates why we need to enjoy life, encourage others, and even laugh at yourself once in awhile." Jennifer Brusstar, Tug McGraw Foundation

What we Can't Say In Words...Moving Pictures with a Very Special Song- Can Say it All.

Thank you Veteran Resident, John Lew for your gift of photography

and Tim McGraw for "Top of the World"

Click here, to visit our Mixed Nutts Site for Written Outcomes on 2016,

to learn more about the program, and or how to get involved in 2017

Learn More

August 9, 2016

TMF's Feathered Friends and a Tiny Garden are Delivering In a Big Way

By: Tim Greene, Member of the Veterans Home of California, Yountville and contributor to the Obsveration Post

Indeed we do!  In a field right in back of the Central Warehouse, the Home has a brand-new, professionally-built chicken coop, provided by the Tug McGraw Foundation, that currently accommodates five hens and two spirited roosters.



The Home is fortunate to have on campus (in the Administration Building) the headquarters of the Tug McGraw Foundation (hereafter TMF), co-founded by a friendly and high energy Director named Jennifer Brusstar.  During a fact-gathering interview, Jennifer describes for me her growing interest in reviving the old Veterans Home tradition of food sustainability.


The Home in 1884                                                          The Home Today is home to a 1000 veterans


Jennifer believes that a return to farming is just one of several programs that could help resolve many of the perennial conflicts affecting our Home community.  She has studied the early mission of the Home, as practiced in the late 1800s, in which livestock, especially hogs and chickens, were a big part of the Home’s sustainability. Jennifer observes that “there are strong bodies of research that demonstrate how connecting with nature, gardening, farming, and raising animals, improves and increases mental health, as well as psychological and spiritual development.”


Through funding efforts and community outreach, TMF started a small back-to-farming project called the Brain Food Garden (near the picnic area), currently  maintained by members from the Veterans Home Transitional Program and TMF Board and Staff. Jennifer explains, “Our Garden’s mission is to work with the Home’s Recreational Therapist to identify opportunities for outdoor exercise and therapy, to implement them, and, finally, to  measure the outcome values. The Garden serves a variety of purposes, including growing vegetables for a local homeless shelter and offering opportunities for intergenerational activities.”



Tug's Cuz, Frank and Jennifer   Home Adminstrator, Don and Rec Therapist Gigi


At one of the quarterly Garden BBQs hosted by TMF, Home member Ian Campbell approached Jennifer and asked her, “What about getting some chickens?” She replied, “Why chickens?” With a smile, Ian responded, “The sounds of caring for chickens take me back to my childhood.”  As a result of this one exchange in the Garden, TMF was inspired to begin creating the chicken project.


To demonstrate and meet TMF’s chicken project goal, Jennifer called upon the aid of her assistant, Ava Talamantez; TMF board member, Frank Henderson (Tug’s cousin); the Home’s Recrea-tional Therapist, Gigi Morgan; the Home’s Health and Safety Officer, Jennifer Leslie; and, most importantly, Ian Campbell and Steve Rodzinski, participants in the Brain Food Garden.


While her team was pulling together budgets, design, and   curriculum, Jennifer paid a visit to the French Laundry’s coop in Yountville. She says, “I fell in love with the simplicity and the community feel of it.”  Knowing she looked at the Rolls Royce of coops, Jennifer quickly realized that it was way out of her budget.


After searching online, Jennifer eventually found a group in Sebastopol called Wine Country Coops that had just what she was looking for. Her contact with this company surprisingly led to a productive connection with the owner, James Stamp, and his son, Gareth. Jennifer explained to the Stamp family that, by their helping to expand the Garden to include chickens, they would be greatly increasing the therapeutic value of the Home’s outdoor work programs. James Stamp was so moved by the mission of the project and the Foundation’s efforts that he and his family not only donated the materials to build the coop, they also came out and worked side by side with TMF and the Home members to build it. “Most astonishing,” says Jennifer, “was my discovery that Wine Country Coops was the same company that built the coop at the French Laundry.” Jennifer adds, “I believe there are no coincidences. Ava and I must have looked at over 500 coops before we landed on the Wine Country site.”



The Stampe Family, Steve and other members of the Home's transisiton program


I ask Jennifer to describe the actual construction of the coop.  She explains, “In the beginning we had a lot of disagreement on how best to build the exterior fencing to accommodate the actual Wine Country coop. We all agreed it would need to be like Ft. Knox against predators – foxes, raccoons, and even mountain lions.   In the end, it was a total community effort; the Home’s Transition group, together with TMF, mapped out the area, cleared the space, and framed and wired the exterior.


In anticipation of the Wine Country coop arrival, the TMF team pushed forward with their Ft. Knox plan. Jennifer tells me, “The team thought of everything to insure the safety and well-being of the chickens, from extending the mesh wiring to prevent animals from digging in, to a raised floor to give the chickens a dry place when it rains. The raised floor is often referred to as “the chicken’s dance floor;” a disco ball is the only thing missing.”


With Fort Knox in place, Operation Egg Plant was now ready to receive Wine Country Coops’ beautiful donation to the project. What is distinctive about WC’s chicken coops is that they are out-of-the-ordinary in design. Each coop is hand-crafted and numbered. The coop that Wine Country donated to the Brain Food Garden is a charming red and white, cottage-style hen house. It accommodates six to eight chickens and features laying space, ladder access for the chickens, and an egg-collecting door.


Jennifer continually emphasizes her back-to-basics philosophy of moving towards sustainability through gardening and outdoor therapy. When asked about the outcomes of this project, she explains, “The eggs the members collect and the veggies they harvest are donated and delivered to Mission Solano’s Bridge for Life Center, where they are used to supplement their meal program. To date, the project has made over ten deliveries. Fifty percentof the clients at Bridge For Life are veterans who are getting back on their feet. Ian and Steve are the principal reason this program is a success - two vets collecting and growing for other vets.”



Steve above with the chickens, Gigi and Jennifer making a harvest and egg delivery to Mission Solano


I ask, “What’s next for the TugMcGraw Foundation at the Home?” Jennifer responds, optimistically, “I’d like next to see us bring in horses.  That would be restoring real history at the Home.  I think our members would enjoy caring for horses, and I believe it would significantly increase their quality-of-life while living here.”





The coop – a.k.a. ‘The Egg Plant’ - is maintained by two volun-teers from Section A, Ian Campbell and Steve Rodzinski. This is a continuation of their involvement in the Veterans Home Transitional Program, run by Gigi Morgan.


As the chicken coop was being built, Gigi asked the men in the gardening program for volunteers to care for the new batch of chickens that would soon arrive.  Ian and Steve immediately volunteered, and they have since become the faithful caretakers of the chicken coop.  Jennifer likes to think of these two guys as embodying  “Ying and Yang” - that is, opposing yet complimentary personalities that inspire one another.


Ian Campbell (73) and Steve Rodzinski (61), are both relatively new to the Home environment, each arriving about 18 months ago. Ian, articulate and outspoken, comes from the Big Sur area.  He has a background in ranching.  His grandfather, a distinguished Texas Ranger, raised him on a horse and cattle ranch in Texas. “My father was in the Army,” says Ian, “and was always gone.  I was a real Army brat,” he laughs.  “We were called ‘brats’ because we got away with a lot more than kids usually do!”  Like his father, Ian’s military service was in the Army.


Soft-spoken Steve comes from Sacramento.  “I have no farming experience at all,” he says.  “I had a dog, but that was my only experience with animals. I’ve mostly been involved in industrial work. When I grew up, the closest I ever got to a chicken was in a store!”  Steve’s military service was also in the Army.


It’s early morning, and I accompany Ian and Steve on their morning trek to feed the chickens. Steve George, OP Photographer, is also with us to take pictures.  We walk through a gate and over some course and bumpy ground to get to the coop enclosure.  As we approach, the one-year-old chickens are immediately wary of our presence.  A strutting and protective Silkie Bantam rooster, “Snowball,” starts fiercely crowing and doesn’t stop all the while we are there.


Ian and Steve enter the coop and talk to their little flock, encouraging them out of hiding at the dark end of the enclosure.  Gradually the birds emerge.  The one they call ‘Gertrude’ heads for the gate, always trying to escape.


The guys perform their chores.  They put out fresh water and then scatter feed – a daily egg-laying formula plus a twice-a-week special mixture containing corn.  Ian collects the eggs; he gathers 3-5 per day.  The keepers end by seeing that all their birds are in good shape and good health.  (A few days later, Ian tearfully informs me that he found Gertrude dead one morning, he doesn’t know why. She was his favorite - a beautiful Speckled Sussex hen.)


The enclosure currently houses seven chickens altogether. Snowball, a fluffy, pure-white Silkie Bantam rooster. is the dominant male.  The other rooster, ‘Norbert‘ (the guys call him ‘Loud-mouth’), is a light-brown Bearded Silkie who spends his time quietly shepherding the hens.  Silkies are known for their beautiful, luxuriant appearance.  They have five rather than the usual four chicken toes and are often used as ornamental home pets.


Among the hens in the flock is a variety of colorful types: two Dutch Welsummers (the ‘Twins’), one Americauna, and one Black Laced Red Wyandotte that the guys call “Big Red.”  The hens each produce about three eggs per week, each one a distinctive color - from buff-colored to blue-green to chocolate-brown.


The Boys and the Girls

The chores end by Steve locking the coop and our departing. (Ed: Ian and Steve invite interested Home members to come up and visit the chicken coop, especially around 8:30 AM, when they perform their daily chores.  Although you have to walk over a bit of rough ground to get to the chicken enclosure, you’ll find the experience well worth the effort – especially to hear Snowball’s crowing upon your arrival.)



This beautiful array of chickens was donated to the Home by Jennifer Leslie, the Home’s Health and Safety Officer, and a person who keeps a variety of animals at her own home. Jennifer tells me, “I ordered the chicks from a hatchey in Missouri. They were born on February 16, 2015.  The hatchery shipped them in a box containing a little water, although their residual yolk-sack would have been enough for them to survive for up to three days in the mail.”


Jennifer continues, “I picked them up at the Post Office when they were only two days old, and I brought them home to a warm brooder that had lights and finely-powered food and fresh water with vitamins.  You have to dunk their little beaks in sugarwater to get them to start drinking, and you keep them in this very warm environment for several weeks to protect them from cold and chill.”  She continues, “I raised them until they were five months old.  Then I took half of them to the Home and kept the other half, the siblings.” Jennifer declares enthusiastically, “To me, chickens are relaxing!  They can live over seven years.  They really become your pets.”


Jennifer is a keeper of many more animals at her home.  In addition to chickens, she looks after two white shepherd dogs, a cat, some rabbits, and four beehives.  Sadly, she recently lost a horse that she has had for the past thirty years. Jennifer describes herself as a devoted lover of animals.  “My pet chickens get to live out their lives, even after they’ve stopped laying eggs.”


I ask Jennifer if there are any health hazards attached to the Home chicken coop.  She responds, “No, just wash your hands.  She adds, “The chickens have all been vaccinated against disease.”



Tug McGraw was a legendary pitcher for the New York Mets (1965-1974) and the Philadelphia Phillies (1974-1984). A few more items of interest about Tug McGraw: he was raised in Napa and Vallejo and served in the US Marine Corps.  Tug played many ballgames on our Home’s Borman Field. His coined the phrase, “Ya Gotta Believe,” which hangs on a sign above the entrance to one of the Home’s worksheds.  Tug’s son, Tim McGraw, is a Grammy-award-winning recording artist and actor. He is also the Foundation’s Honorary Chairman.

Tug McGraw Raised in Vallejo and Napa : The Marine, The Miracle Met, and The heart of the Phillies

Tug McGraw left an indelible mark on baseball and on his fans. He touched the lives of thousands of children and adults, both as a baseball player and then after his retirement. He worked tirelessly throughout his career on behalf of many community and charitable organizations.  In 2003, Tug was diagnosed with brain cancer. Prior to his death, he established the Tug McGraw Foundation to inspire and drive research that would build greater understanding of brain disease.

Tim McGraw


Recognizing that other areas of brain research, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), inform the science surrounding brain cancer, TMF widened its scope in 2009 to include a broader spectrum of the neurosciences...


Jennifer and her son Jack

Jennifer Brusstar is co-founder of the Tug McGraw Foundation.  Following twenty years as a flight attendant, Jennifer became Tug McGraw’s caregiver. Her husband was Tug’s teammate for the Phillies. Her passion in wanting to help others with neurological disorders and disease was driven by the love for her son, Jack, who at age two was diagnosed with Autism. Today at eighteen he can often be seen at Borman Field playing with the Home’s Mixed Nutts Team, which TMF supports. Jennifer says, “Now that’s another story - how TMF and the Mixed Nutts paired up to create an outdoor therapy program around America’s favorite pastime.”


Jennifer  believes that “ an important part of TMF’s mission is to continue to demonstrate to the State of California (CalVet) how a non-profit can compliment and give support to their veterans’ programs. By doing so, we are maximizing resources and funding, as well as demonstrating best practices by evaluating, measuring, and sharing the results with others. The chicken project falls under that umbrella.”


Jennifer concludes our interview by telling me, “It’s an exciting time for the Tug McGraw Foundation to be part of the Home and to help preserve it for future generations of veterans. I’m hoping that we can play a role in supporting veterans on a peer-to-peer basis across the country.  And I believe gardening and animals is one great way to make it happen.”


(Ed:  To learn more about TMF’s nationwide programs or to get involved with the Brain Food Garden, visitwww.tugmcgraw.org or stop by TMF’s office in the Administration Building and ask for Ava Talamantez.)


Source: Veterans Home of California, Yountville

Publication: Observation Post, August 2016, Vol 2 No. 19, Written by Tim Greene, Veteran and Home Member

Photo Credits Veterans: Steve George, Home Member

Photo Credits Tim McGraw: MLB and Mets

Photo Credits Tug McGraw: MLB, Phillies and Mets




July 5, 2016

A Message from Team Eric from the Summit

After a tremendous weekend climbing, we wanted to report back to all of you that Team Eric successfully summited Mount Rainer in the early morning on Sunday June 26th. Our climbing adventure began on June 24th with a refresher clinic of mountaineering safety skills and techniques, skills that were luckily never needed. The following day, with abundant sunshine, we commenced our climb to Camp Muir (an outpost located at 10,000 ft) to rest for a few hours before beginning our summit attempt at midnight on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, at about 12,000 ft at 2 am, Will faced some problems with his climbing boots and was forced to stop before some steep rocky pitches.  Jon and Josh were able to push forward and bring the Team Eric and Tug McGraw banner to the summit (14,410 ft). The team descended together from Camp Muir to the bottom in high spirits. Will was proud to be a part of the expedition despite the difficulties and plans to return to Mount Rainier to conquer the last couple thousand feet.



We wanted to thank all of our friends and family for supporting us on our journey over the past six months. We are so proud, not only of our time on the mountain, but of the incredible fundraising achievement which all of you were a part of: we raised $14,774 from 144 donors for the Tug McGraw foundation, more than 120% of our goal. We set out to make this journey about doing something bigger than ourselves, to raise money and awareness about Brain Cancer, Veterans PTSD and TBI, as well as celebrate Josh’s Dad Eric’s birthday. We accomplished all of these goals and could not have done it without your support.



As a team, we gained both a deeper friendship and a greater appreciation for the challenge of climbing. We hope to continue this tradition together in the future. Thank you again for being a part of this special moment with us, and we hope you enjoy the attached pictures.





Will, Josh and Jon

(Team Eric)


June 20, 2016

TMF's Study Hits Denver Post Game of Pain: Inside NFL

Game of Pain, part 2: Untangling the knots

Why former Bronco Jeb Putzier has turned to an array of therapies to ease his post-football Pain

By Nicki Jhabvala-Denver Post-Published June 17, 2016



With a greater awareness of football’s long-term effects on their health, many ex-players are anxiously searching for ways to not only treat pain but also prevent the onset of additional symptoms. Specialists in Colorado have joined the hunt.

Jeb Putzier knows how he got here, sitting on his couch on a recent Tuesday morning, his hair disheveled and his daily regimen of therapy and supplements scribbled on a calendar on the kitchen table. His thoughts can often be muddled, but some replays remain vivid.

He remembers the brutal blow delivered by New England cornerback Asante Samuel in 2005 that left him with six stitches and a jaw that still pops out. Putzier remembers the crushing hit by San Diego linebacker Steve Foley later that season that is still floating around the internet titled “Steve Foley almost kills Jeb Putzier.”

Putzier remembers his release from the Broncos seven years ago, and he certainly remembers the steep drop that followed: his suicide attempt and an acrimonious end to his marriage that limits visitations with his two young children to once every few weeks.

“My kids. If my kids weren’t here,” he says, “I’d already be dead.”


After suffering what he estimates were more than 1,000 concussions, as well as an array of physical injuries during his eight-year professional career as a tight end, seven of those in the NFL, Putzier now spends his time searching for ways to clear his mind and end his pain. His joints ache. His head hurts. And although his injuries are far from debilitating, his mind is constantly in overdrive, causing otherwise routine activities to exhaust him.


Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel pummels PutzierPutzier is hit hard by Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce

JOHN LEYBA, DENVER POST FILEPatriots cornerback Asante Samuel pummels Putzier during a game in 2005.

ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTOA week later, Putzier is hit hard by Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce.



May 8, 2016

SOLD OUT Country Music Legends & Songwriters Double Header for TMF


VIEW EVENT SITE: www.tugmcgrawproam.org                       SOLD OUT


Tug McGraw Foundation to Host Double-Header Events
Evening in the Songwriters Round at the Listening Room Café, June 6th &5th Annual Celebrity Sporting Clay Pro-Am at Nashville Gun Club, June 7th

With over $425,000 raised over the last four years, both events benefit The Tug McGraw Foundation (TMF) and its work to improve quality of life for ournation’s wounded, ill and injured service members and civilians living with brain-related trauma and tumors.

Yountville, CA – May 9, 2016 – The Tug McGraw Foundation (TMF), a national nonprofit that raises awareness, supports programs, and drives research to build greater understanding for brain-related trauma and disease, today announced double-header fundraising events to sponsor research and programming to improve quality of life for children and adults with brain tumors, our nation’s service members, veterans, and others suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

"I love what the TMF does as an organization,” said country music artist Craig Campbell. “I have been honored to participate each year at the Pro-Am and pumped to be included on the evening Songwriting show. Taking care of our military once they return is very important and the TMF does that better than any other organization.”

On Monday, June 6, 2016 the TMF will host An Evening in the Songwriters Round, emceed by writer, producer and Great American Country host, and SiriusXM radio host, Storme Warren at the Listening Room Café in Nashville, Tennessee.

Several of Nashville’s leading singers/songwriters will then share the stage and trade off playing their original songs. The 2016 round includes: Jamie O'Neal, Keith Anderson, Craig Wiseman, Marv Green, Tom Douglas, and Craig Campbell. Keith Anderson, Craig Wiseman, Tom Douglas, and Craig Campbell.


Seating is limited and tickets for this event willgo fast, so make reservations early. Tickets and sponsorships are available.  Reservations can be made online at http://www.tugmcgrawproam.org, or by phone (707) 947-7124.

The 5th Annual Tug McGraw Foundation Celebrity Sporting Clay Pro-Am will be held on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at the Nashville Gun Club. Sponsored by Tarver Land Development and course sponsor First Data, the event will feature an exciting array of celebrities from the music, sports, and professional sporting clay communities, all vying for a chance to be crowned champions.

An all-star lineup of celebrities will participate including Tim McGraw, country music legend, Tanya Tucker, Mike Fisher of the NHL Nashville Predators, Andy Ross, Craig Campbell, Preston Brust and Chris Lucas of the LoCash Cowboys, Brooke Eden, Craig Morgan, Eric Paslay, Granger Smith, Keith Anderson, Mark Collie, Mark Wills, Darryl Worley, Ty Herndon, Jamie Lynne Spears, and Headline Country host Storme Warren.


“I have the honor and privilege to support many great charity events, however the Tug McGraw Pro-Am is the highlight of my year,” said event title sponsor Robby Tarver, owner of Tarver Land Development. “Tarver Land is proud to be a repeat sponsor and partner of the continued journey for treatment of cognitive brain disease. This event is unique and brings a diverse group of people together for a great cause!”

The exclusive star-studded event is a sporting clay shooting competition between 20 teams consisting of four shooters, a pro, and a celebrity. There will be great food and a post event awards cocktail reception. For more information about becoming a sponsor of the event, please visit http://www.tugmcgrawproam.org. Follow us on Twitter @tugmcgraw, and #tugmcgrawproam.

About the Tug McGraw Foundation The Tug McGraw Foundation (TMF) was established by Tug McGraw in 2003 to raise funds to enhance the quality of life of children and adults with brain tumors and their families by stimulating and facilitating research that addresses the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual impact of the disease. Recognizing that other areas of brain research - such as traumatic brain injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - inform the science surrounding brain cancer, TMF has widened its scope to include a broader spectrum of the neuroscience to support advances in medical care and quality of life for our nation’s battle-wounded, ill and injured service members. www.tugmcgraw.org

Media Contact:Tara L. Biller,












April 17, 2016

Tim McGraw Joining Forces to Further Improve Quality of Life for others


Having sold two companies for nine-digit sums and led the Nashville Entrepreneur Center as its founding CEO, Michael Burcham has a fair amount of star power in Nashville's health care and entrepreneurial circles. But the newest board member of Burcham's latest venture, Narus Health, is a slightly bigger name. Country singer Tim McGraw is joining the board of directors of the palliative care company, which aims to improve the quality of life for patients facing terminal illness.


The partnership brings together Nashville's two largest industries, health care and country music. McGraw's involvement and status as a public face for shared efforts of his own foundation and Narus will help get the company's message out to a broader audience of consumers, Burcham said.


Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw

“When I learned of Narus Health’s patient-focused approach, helping people with serious illness live their lives, it struck a chord," McGraw, whose father, baseball player Tug McGraw, died of brain cancer, said in a news release. "I remember all the decisions my dad had to make along the way, and the support system he needed throughout his journey.


"When you are facing a serious illness, you need a dedicated team to ride alongside you," he continued. "People who will listen, provide support and guidance for you and your family, and give you a voice in your health care decisions. That’s the kind of care everyone deserves, and it’s why I’m partnering with Narus Health."



After five years running the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and inspired by the death of his friend, mentor and family member Tommy Cato, Burcham launched Narus in 2015. The company has moved into offices at 2525 West End, Burcham said, and expects to launch its first pilots this summer. ( Read more about the company's backstory and model here.)



Burcham said he and McGraw first met through mutual friends, and soon connected about their shared personal experiences and passion for helping those facing terminal illness.  Narus and the Tug McGraw Foundation, named for the country singer's father, will announce a series of shared initiatives in the coming months, according to the release.



When Tim and I shared our personal stories of loved ones who faced a serious illness and the incredible amount of stress it placed on our families, we quickly realized we shared a passion for making a difference,” Burcham said. “We talked about ways we could give consumers a voice in their health care choices, support their families and provide them the guidance and resources they need to make informed decisions. We both knew at that moment: we could combine our teams and our talents to do something meaningful for families all over America."



Source: Nashville Business Journal


Eleanor Kennedy covers Nashville's health care and technology industries.