Following 15 deployments, Navy SEAL Alex West returned home a different man.
“[It] really place a lot of strain on my body,” he explained, which strain abandoned West struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and a traumatic brain injury.
But, despite the pain and trauma from his time in Iraq and Afghanistan, 1 thing still remained a constant: West’s love for the water.
“I joined the Navy to be a SEAL,” he states. “I think there’s something special about the saltwater. ”
All photographs supplied by Starbucks.
It comes as no surprise, then, that West would find healing and recovery from the waves.
Tapping into the sense he turned to surfing as a means.
“The moment that you capture a wave, rsquo & there;s something in your mind about it that there is he said. “You step of becoming ready for deployments away from this regular life or for combat. ”
Turns out, he wasn’t the only vet to find a feeling of calm from the water.
After he returned having taken two bullets Fellow Navy SEAL James McFadden found relaxation from the ocean also. He had to have 27 surgeries.
Initially, he’d feared he wouldn’t be able to surf again, but he was determined to try, so he combined an elastic surf program at Balboa Hospital. That’s where he met West.
“When we met with each other, it was a surf day,&rdquo. “And I remember thinking to myself, ‘damn man, this isn’t good, this will be kind of dangerous. ’”
But McFadden was unfazed. “I just crushed it out to the lineup,” he states.
West was astonished and inspired — watching McFadden skimming across the waves, he realized there was a true opportunity to make surfing more accessible for veterans such as McFadden, who’d benefit from custom equipment.
&ldquo because a number have injuries or of those guys and gals are missing legs, it doesn’t mean that they are’t push it,” he states. “But there wasn’t one place that only specifically designed elastic surfing equipment [for them]. ”
That’s how West got the notion for Another Wave — a nonprofit to help disabled veterans get back to the water with equipment designed specially for them.
West clarifies, you may require a handle to maintain the plank better if you’re missing a limb, or you may have to move the fins of this board for support.
West and his crew linked with vets who badly needed new gear to get back to the water and helped them through ingenious designs and neighborhood support.
“We’re bringing men out, rsquo we &;re studying them, we’re surfing with them,” West clarifies. “By providing them with a truly customized elastic surfboard, we have the ability to help [them] catch more waves. ”
But it’s about more than just surfboards — it’so about the healing that happens when they get back out to the water.
Among the veterans whose life had been transformed by yet another Wave is Tommy Counihan, ” he states that he found the feeling of belonging and serenity that he had been looking for on the water.
“I moved from wanting to kill myself to wanting to conquer the f***ing planet,” he admits. “[I needed] to go out and break down all those constraints that I had set up for myself.”
“I got that by surfing,” he proceeds.
When West discovered stories such as Counihan’therefore, he understood he had been offering something much more important than just gear — he had been providing a feeling of kinship and neighborhood, which veterans returning from war so frequently needed.
For these vets, finding a sense of purpose, healing, and community could be life threatening.
War could be incredibly traumatic, together with upward of 11-20% of veterans coming from Iraq suffering from PTSD, also almost 1 million veterans living with a disability after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
And with nonprofits such as West’s, the standard of life for these veterans could be improved with the ideal support.
“If you’re currently dealing with an accident [or] you’re down, there’s a way to escape the darkness,&rdquo. “There’s a lot to live for in life. There’s another wave. ”
Have a look at the amazing work of Another Wave from the video below:
Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/