Wounded warriors surf with celebrities
July 24, 2014
- Third Eye Blind surfs with wounded warriors
EWA BEACH, Hawaii -- Learning to surf is on the bucket list of many Soldiers who get stationed in Hawaii.
Getting a lesson from bona fide rock stars and a surfing giant makes for an even more epic experience.
Four Soldiers from the Warrior Transition Battalion, Pacific Regional Medical Command, had the surfing session of a lifetime when Third Eye Blind front man Stephan Jenkins and drummer Brad Hargreaves joined them for a day surfing the sets at White Plains Beach, here, July 5.
Also dropping in to give the Soldiers some pointers was Jenkins' friend Buzzy Kerbox, a world-renowned waterman widely known for inventing tow surfing with fellow power surfer Laird Hamilton.
"Brad and I are both avid surfers, and surfing has really given a lot to us," said Jenkins, who showed no fatigue from his previous night's performance at U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii's 43rd annual 4th of July Spectacular.
"We've had mentors in surfing, and it's about balancing the equation," Jenkins continued. "That's what people like Buzzy Kerbox did for me. I was lucky enough to have someone like him, and it feels really good to turn around and give that back to people, too, especially people who have sacrificed a lot."
"I've heard about what they suffer from, and anything I can do to help, why not?" added Kerbox. "It was fun to be out there, helping them get the waves. Their surfing improved so quickly."
Jenkins and Hargreaves reached out to the WTB through Mark Marble, the site coordinator for the Military Adaptive Sports Program (based on Schofield Barracks), after reading an article about a similar program in San Diego that uses surfing as therapy for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"(The article) talked about how the engagement of the physical and the mental aspect of (surfing) triggers dopamine in the brain. It was kind of a scientific explanation of why people suffering PTSD get relief from surfing, and I just thought that was so cool," said Hargreaves. "This was the first opportunity we've had to (get involved), and it's something we want to do more."
"For me, surfing is the one activity where I can be totally focused on what I'm doing; there's a real freedom and a joy in the presence of the moment," Jenkins said. "I think it takes a long time for veterans to get home, to get in the present tense, and I can't think of anything better to assist in that process than surfing."
The opportunity for the Soldiers to surf side-by-side with these celebrities also, no doubt, added to the healing process.
"(Third Eye Blind) got me through the '90s!" said Sgt. Kawaiola Nahale.
"I grew up in California, so it's nice to have a band I'm familiar with come out and give their time to talk to us and see how we're doing," added Sgt. Tim Hilton.
"It's a real honor for them to come out and support us," agreed Staff Sgt. Billie Grimes-Watson. "I use their music when I exercise; it kind of gets me going."
"When they said do you want to go surfing, I said yes. When they said how would you like to do it with Third Eye Blind, I said, are you kidding me? I'll be there!" laughed Spc. Emily Robinson.
"It's really cool for them to take time and spend time with Soldiers who, for a long time, years ago, were forgotten," Robinson added. "I've only been in the WTB for two months, and since then my quality of life has just increased completely. The Army has totally changed its way of thinking about wounded warriors."
"We appreciate any type of activity celebrities can participate in with our Soldiers," said Maj. Glenn Young, operations officer, WTB. "It increases morale of the Soldiers, and it's just a good thing all around."