On March 17, 25 veterans from San Diego, California took to the waves at San Onofre Beach near Camp Pendleton for the first day of a weekend-long surfing clinic, reported The San Diego Union-Tribune. The Semper Fi Fund, a California-based nonprofit, is sponsoring the event, which runs through March 21. Instructors from the surf therapy organization Waves of Impact are leading the sessions.
The ex-servicemembers participating in the camp, called Surf Team Semper Fi, deal with a variety of deployment-related injuries.
Marine veteran Ryan Voltin, one of the participants, piloted an attack helicopter during the Iraq War and, in 2007, lost his left leg and sustained serious burns during a crash, reported Patch. When he returned home, a case officer from The Semper Fi Fund led him through recovery. Voltin has been devoted to the organization ever since.
Prior to the camp's kickoff, the Marine waited in anticipation, aching to get out on the water and take on a new challenge.
"If I leave here with a renewed desire to create these kinds of experiences for myself and my family then this camp will have accomplished its mission as far as I'm concerned," he told Patch. "And the mere anticipation of this event has motivated my wife and I to plan a beach camping trip with our kids this summer so, mission accomplished."
Like a lot of veterans dealing with injuries in life after service, Voltin embraces physical activity and often competes in events as a member of Team Semper Fi, the nonprofit's in-house athletics squad.
Throughout the year, the Semper Fi Fund hosts dozens of sporting events, all of which are designed to heal mental and physical war wounds. Surf Team Semper Fi is no different.
Group surf therapy is a widely used technique for individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome and other injuries, reported Outside Magazine. And, the team atmosphere is especially important for veterans who discharge out of combat teams into solitary civilian life. Plus, the challenge of learning a new skill excites many ex-servicemembers.
"Work was good, family was good, but I'm a Marine: I needed a challenge," Voltin said. "For me this surf camp offers a unique combination of three things: outdoor activity, physical and psychological challenge and, most importantly, quality time with our wounded warrior community."