Health

The Healing Powers of the Ocean
From PTSD to traumatic brain injuries, the wounds of war can run very deep, and while traditional therapies can help; sometimes all it takes is a surfboard and a day out on the ocean to begin the healing process

Matt Doyle Wave

Army veteran Matthew Doyle, 26, is hit by a wave at a surf therapy session for military veterans in Manhattan Beach, Calif., May 14, 2011.  Doyle joined the ocean therapy program to help him overcome post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after multiple tours of duty in Iraq.

The program, which is sponsored by The Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, was launched shortly after Jimmy — who was a lifelong surfer — took his life in 2005.

"When somebody dies, especially when they die too young, we wanted to do something to commemorate him," Jimmy's brother, Jeff Miller, told FoxNews.com.

(Reuters )

Matt Doyle Surfing

Matthew Doyle catches a wave during a surf therapy session in Manhattan Beach. 

In the summer of 2007, the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation launched ocean therapy sessions to serve Marines with the Wounded Warrior Battalion West division located at Camp Pendleton.

“We didn’t know what to expect – we didn’t know what kind of injuries they had, if they had PTSD, or if they’d be physically able to surf with us – but that first day was just magical,” Jeff Miller said. 

Stana Cazely surfing

Navy veteran Stana Cazely, 28, catches a wave on May 7, 2011. 

"It’s not just that there’s something magical about surfing, as some people say, but it’s really about getting them outside of the mindset of thinking and remembering these things that have happened," Dr. Dale Archer, a clinical psychiatrist based in New York and Louisiana.

(Reuters )

Surfing High Five

Marine veteran Chris Bosco, 26, (R) high fives army veteran Edward Menchavez after catching a wave.

"Some of the guys created a surf community down there of Wounded Warriors, and they're down there surfing when we're not there, which was the goal," Miller said. "We want to cerate a way for them to have a sense a community and a way to heal."

(Reuters )

Joseph Perez surf board on head

Air Force veteran Joseph Perez-Marchese, 25, walks up the beach on May 7, 2011.

“Surfing takes total focus and concentration – and when someone is doing this – they’re not having flashbacks and they’re not thinking about the horrible things they’ve experienced,” Archer said. “Instead, they are in the moment. It’s about being in the here and now."

(Reuters )

Ed Menchavez surfing

Army veteran Edward Menchavez zips up his wetsuit at a surf therapy session in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

"If they have that connection to the ocean and to Jim, they just keep coming back for more," Miller said. 

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The Healing Powers of the Ocean

From PTSD to traumatic brain injuries, the wounds of war can run very deep, and while traditional therapies can help; sometimes all it takes is a surfboard and a day out on the ocean to begin the healing process

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