Veterans can experience calm waters with Warrior Sailing program￼
Sail PC offers sessions in July and August
Although Memorial Day is set aside to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, Sail PC offers a veterans program that focuses on those who are working through issues brought on through their service.
Warrior Sailing is a collaboration between Sail PC, also known as the Park City Sailing Association, and the nonprofit arm of the United States Merchant Marine Sailing Foundation, said instructor Ken Block.
“The idea is to provide a series of afternoons of sailing to local veterans,” he said. “The sessions consist of lessons and time on boats in a safe, non-judgmental environment.”
All service veterans, especially those with physical and mental-health challenges, are encouraged to participate, Block said.
“The program is for vets who have experienced loss of limbs or sight, and we have two adaptive sailing instructors, so we can accommodate people who have a fairly broad range of physical disabilities,” he said. “We are also trained and adept with working with people with psychological challenges, primarily post traumatic stress disorder, and those who have cognitive-learning issues, and substance abuse issues.”
The program takes place at the Jordanelle Reservoir from noon-4 p.m., according to Block.
“We meet at the Lake View Center, and it starts with some light instruction, because we believe having an understanding of how a sailboard moves, how you steer it and the effect of wind and waves helps them feel comfortable on the boat,” he said. “We strongly encourage people to learn how to steer the boat, because it’s so empowering. It’s multi-dimensional the way a boat moves through the water. It’s not just a straight line. The boat has a nice motion to it.”
Steering a boat is also a multi-sensory experience, Block said.
“You’re in charge of this vessel, but you hear the wind in the sails, feel the wind on your face and feel the gentle rise and fall of the boat on the waves,” he said.
The next sessions are July 17, 27 and 31 and August 4, 25 and 28, Block said.
“We can accommodate between 12 and 16 people,” he said.
For information and registration, email email@example.com.
Warrior Saling was started with the Veterans Administration Hospital in Salt Lake City by Dr. William Marchand, according to Block.
“Bill was the chief psychiatrist at the VA and is now the hospital’s Whole Health Clinical director,” he said. “And being the Whole Health director, we’ve been able to incorporate things like mindfulness in the sailing program.”
“They have been validated through research and a variety of noted scales, where we measured the effect of sailing on mental health,” Block said. “The cool thing is no other sailing program has quantified these results like we did. That had validated the importance of the program.”
Since Warrior Sailing is the only program of its type so far in the United States, other sailing organizations in the United States, and even one in Australia, have reached out to Park City Sailing for guidance, Block said.
“The questions range from how to found a program to how to build relationships with veteran organizations,” he said. “And we’re really proud of that.”
Block has seen how life transforming Warrior Saling is throughout the seven years Park City Sailing has offered the program.
“One that sticks in my mind is of a vet from one of our first times out,” he said. “He was an IED (improvided explosive device) specialist, and he was on suicide watch. When we finished the session, he said, ‘I finally found a place where they can’t hide IEDs on me.'”
Last week, Block sailed with a woman who had lost her leg and was also in a substance-abuse recovery program.
“One of the things we do during our addiction and recovery sessions is a closing circle, where we talk about what they learned and what they experienced,” he said. “She didn’t say anything, but as she was getting ready to get into the van at the end of the day, she stopped and gave me the biggest bear hug.”
Block later found out the woman, who was from Pocatello, Idaho, was looking forward to returning home and finding other resources like Park City Sailing to offer other veterans.
“This program is life altering,” he said. “It has the ability to touch people’s hearts and put them on a new pathway, because they find a connection with something when they sail with us on one of our little 22-foot boats.”
That connection can range from anything like seeing the mountain range or feeling the sensation of freedom on the water or even feeling the presence of a higher power, Block said.
“They clear their minds and are able to take a few steps forward in the recovery process,” he said..
Block would like to see more local veterans join the program.
“I’m of the belief that in the greater Park City Area that there are a number of veterans who, for a variety of reasons, haven’t taken advantage of the VA programs,” he said. “Some vets in our community are first responders, and an untold story is the number of first-responders who have mental health issues. They are the ones who go to horrific accidents, crime scenes and other intense situations. We would like to offer our services to them.”
While attending the Tuesday afternoon event, Lev-Segev will talk about the importance of art and culture in society, which is showcased by the work and exhibits offered by the Mishkan Museum, founded in 1937.
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