I often wax poetically about the romance of surfing, of waiting in relative solitude among the waves for a good swell. It’s waiting patiently for the next positive rush instead of–in this case–waiting anxiously for the next explosion. It’s a calming effect, like meditation or breathing exercises. Like flying, surfing changed my life, even though I don’t get much chance to practice it anymore. The experience is transcendental, and I’m sure these combat-fatigued vets will find some inner peace on the blue.
There’s no quick fix for post-traumatic stress disorder, but research has shown that surfing’s physicality and flow can give victims some relief and a way forward. The author hit the water with his close friend Brian, a former Navy SEAL whose service in Afghanistan beat up his body, tortured his mind, and pushed him into a zone where violence—against himself or others—seemed inevitable.