This past Saturday the Wounded Warriors Project in conjunction with the Florida Surfing Association headed by Paul West again put on a surfing clinic for our Wounded (Surf) Warriors at Huguenot Memorial Park.
I was again fortunate to be able to act as an instructor in the event held on a beautiful clear day in small yet perfect waves for novices to learn. The event was one of good vibes and comradeship thanks to all the volunteers, families and of course all the warriors that participated.
Above all, the event is one of healing and strengthening of the body, mind and spirit. When someone comes home from war, especially if they have been wounded or have witnessed the atrocities of war, adjusting and coping with life afterwards can be most difficult.
I was fortunate to have served late in the Vietnam War as a crew chief on a spy plane and never had to see combat. I do remember, however, that many of my friends and schoolmates never returned from the war and that those that did weren’t the same when they returned home scarred and broken.
Surfing for me has always been an activity that has given me strength, comfort and happiness even during my most troubling of times and I am certain, especially after witnessing the smiles and excitement in the faces of all of the Wounded Warriors that it has done the same for them.
I am certain the good vibes and comradeship of the day will stick with them forever and I can bet many of those men and women will be purchasing boards of their own and become lifelong surfers. And even if they don’t, to me they are all now part of the tribe and will know they accomplished a great feat by simply catching a wave.
What I enjoyed the most about the day was getting to know all the surfer especially the two I worked with named Bill and Brian and sharing our stories with each other. I am certain If we all got to know each other better by sharing our stories and understanding each others challenges, hopes and dreams that we’d all be a lot better off for it.
There is no doubt that war is hell but thanks to the Wounded Warrior Project and the help of committed volunteers like those present Saturday, hopefully the warriors will be able to mend together the pieces of their lives that were torn by war and find the happiness and piece of mind they truly earned and deserve.
Thanks for checking in this week and we’ll talk again next week.