By Kendall McGee | December 19, 2020 at 6:54 PM EST – Updated December 20 at 5:37 PM
SURF CITY, N.C. (WECT) – When you think of therapy, a cold morning surf under the American flag probably isn’t what comes to mind, but surf therapy is exactly what Valerie Bennett looks forward to every third Saturday of the month.
”When you’re out there, its just… everything gets quiet,” said Bennett of time spent in the water.
Bennett served in the Marine Corps for 11 years. She was deployed three times in the Middle East, but today shes the chapter lead of Surf City’s One More Wave. Its a nonprofit group that makes surf therapy accessible to all veterans.
“When you come home, you’re just a little bit different. It’s not a bad thing, right, your brain just works a little bit different. You’ve been exposed to different elements, but coming to the ocean has probably been the best thing for me. I tell people sometimes that it saved my life,” said Bennett.
Bennett believes surfing allows veterans to find a sense of peace and connection with their community.
The idea to use water to help veterans isn’t unique to her group; Paddle 4 Troops is another Surf City organization that supports service members
Both received $500 grants Saturday morning as part of The Home Depot Foundation’s Operation Surprise campaign.
Dwight Torres of Paddle 4 Troops says the pandemic cancelled the group’s annual paddle board race this year, an event that brought $100,000 in to their organization last year.
“Because of COVID, we weren’t able to have our event this year, so it’s great that Home Depot was able to step up and try and fill that gap and give us some funds to help with the needs that still exist,” said Co-founder of Paddle 4 Troops Dwight Torres.
That money helps Paddle 4 Troops financially support veterans and their families and allows one more wave to get wet suits and surf boards in the hands of veterans wanting to take advantage of the ocean’s powerful healing.
“So if it’s surfing, if it’s paddle boarding, whatever it may be that’s what us veterans need… We just need a place to be quiet for a little bit and connect with other people and talk and talk jokes with each other,” said Bennett.
You cant stop the waves from coming but you can learn how to surf.
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