Operation Surf brings the healing power of the ocean to veterans

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- This is where Jordan Sisco finds peace: in the water.

The Orange County man grew up surfing and is back catching waves in Huntington Beach.

"My dad taught me to surf, and I knew surfing was something I really wanted to do again, it was a no brainer," Sisco said.

But Jordan wasn't sure he'd ever surf again after an IED attack took both his legs in Afghanistan in 2012.

As part of his recovery, the Army veteran was introduced to Operation Surf, a program of Amazing Surf Adventures.

The non-profit helps brave men and woman who have served heal in the water.

Sisco said, "I was pretty nervous; I didn't know what I could and couldn't do. It's surprisingly a lot easier now, because I don't have to worry about standing up."

Operation Surf is in Huntington Beach for a week-long program where hundreds of volunteers and surf instructors teach these veterans how to catch a wave.

Many of them start with no experience at all.

Danny Nichols helped bring the program to Orange County for its second year. Nichols said, "The very first thing the ocean teaches us is that we have to surrender, the only thing we have control over is our attitude and our actions."

Participants say focusing on surfing eases anxiety and helps cope with PTSD. Volunteers say they love seeing the community that the program creates and helping the veterans find joy in the water.

Volunteer John Strazickas describes the feeling. "It goes from this kind of stern face to just like wide open, it's amazing to watch that happen, you can't get enough of it, Strazickas said.

For so many participants, a trip to Operation Surf is a unique experience and a highly effective tool in their recovery.
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