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Surf camp helps veterans heal

September 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Surfing can be a very challenging sport. However, it is also proving to be good physical therapy for injured vets.Larry Foster was very excited on Wednesday after he caught his first wave.

Such a feat may not seem like a big deal until you see Larry. He only has one leg. Like many U.S. veterans, he is riding waves despite some serious challenges.

"Once you catch that wave, your rolling, and it's a blast," said Foster.

Each vet surfing on Wednesday had a different story, but their reason for being on the Malibu shore is the same: Somehow it helps them heal.

It works wonders. It's amazing. I feel so much better after being out there all day," said Gayle Childs, another veteran.

The activity is part of a surf camp. The camp is put together by the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration and volunteers from the William Morris Company. It's just one of a number of different types of activities they offer, and it is quickly becoming one of the more popular ones.

While the goal is to catch a wave, it is also about being with other people dealing with the same types of problems.

"When you see the guys out there missing an arm or leg and they're out there just having a blast, it is very uplifting," said Becky Jones, a veteran.

"The biggest thing is self confidence. A lot of our disabled vets are here because they've lost something, and surfing gives them something back," said Randi Woodrow, Veterans Administration.

Whether it is roar of the ocean or the rhythm of the waves, there is something about surfing that helps heal these men and women, in their bodies and in their minds.

 

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