Flathead sailing program aims to help PTSD symptoms in veterans

Posted at 12:51 PM, Jun 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-11 14:51:56-04

DAYTON – Sailing schools around the country are reaching out to military veterans and offering them a chance to learn a new skill that could help ease the symptoms of PTSD.

“Sailing, I feel like, is the sense of freedom that allows you to harness the wind on your own terms,” said Captain Genevieve Evans, who owns the Flathead Lake Sailing School. “It’s about being on the water and using the equipment and feeling the wind and it’s not always about getting to a certain place.”

She’s part of Operation Vet Sail, a program that teaches basic sailing skills to active and retired service members.

The theory is sailing is soothing to the soul. It could relieve symptoms of PTSD and help get anyone back on an even keel. When you sail, you leave your troubles on the shore.

It’s not just a physical distance either. It’s an emotional one as you are having a conversation with the wind and the waves and together, they take you someplace entirely new.

“When you turn off the engine and you raise the sails, it’s like someone has flipped a switch and it’s like a whole new set of experiences and you relax and enjoy and feel the breezes and go anywhere you choose to go using nature,” U.S. Air Force veteran Reggie Good said.

Good understands when you’re at the helm, you call the shots. Whether you’re coming about or choosing a tack, it gives power to someone who might feel they have none.

“It gives them an option to deal with something where they can exercise any amount of control they choose and there’s a lot of things around all of us, veterans included, that we don’t have a lot of control over. This gives us some power back again.”

Sailing can bring families back together too. They’re away from the stress of the day, their phones, or other distractions to achieve a goal together.

“It’s about preparation and drills and forming a community and a team atmosphere to relieve stress and get your focus off of the day-to-day,” Evans said.

The wind, the water, the waves, it can bring a sense of freedom.

The program offers discounts to veterans for the instruction. Click here for more information.

-Reported by Jill Valley/MTN News