For the last few years, Santa Cruz has been holding an event called Operation Surf, in this beach side California town. It is sponsored by Amazing Surf Adventures, a non-profit organization. ASA helps develop programs within the community which combine surfing with other activities, helping individuals overcome their personal challenges and changing their perspective about their lives. It was held on April 12th through April 18th, 2016. It was put on in both Santa Cruz and Capitola, California. This event uses the rejuvenating effects of water, sun, and fun to help our returning injured servicemen and women empower their lives by learning how to surf. Surfing is used to help heal and inspire our vets to get out there and enjoy life again.
Operation Surf is a one-of-a-kind event started out as the result of one wounded warriors desire to learn to surf after losing his leg in the war. Navy Corpsman Derek McGuiness, was recovering from his injuries at Brooke Army Medical Center. There he happened to meet Janis Roznowski of Operation Comfort, another successful organization that helps our injured soldiers. Because of Derek’s desire to learn to surf, Operation Surf in Santa Cruz was born! This program changes lives, one wave at a time.
This amazing event is held every year in support of all the men and women who have sacrificed more than most of us can even imagine to insure and protect the freedoms of the rest of us. Military
service members from all branches of the military who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan will be taking part in this incredible and epic life-changing event at beaches in Santa Cruz and Capitola. Operation Surf is held to encourage severely injured veteran and active duty service members to take part in an experience they will never forget! The purpose of this program is to help these wounded warriors overcome insurmountable challenges and help them realize the power they have within themselves to take control and boost their personal potential. The waves of the ocean and mounting the surf for the first time offers incredible healing power.
To aid in the early part of a veterans recovery, Operation Surf has discovered that this trip is a unique and highly effective healing tool. Most of these vets will experience this for the first time after being dismissed from the hospital since being wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. Most of them have never experienced the ocean, and have no idea what to expect.
Local community members make this whole event possible. There are numerous fundraisers held to collect donations to pay for this entire event. They sponsor and pay for everything so that these veterans, to whom we owe so much including all the freedoms we enjoy, can spend those six days having possibly the best time of their lives. Just for a short while, they are able to forget all the horrors and pain that they have endured, and just enjoy life. Many will overcome fears, insurmountable challenges, perceived limitations of physical and psychological disabilities, and gain a new perspective on their lives. Hopefully, they can learn to once again reach their full potential.
Upon arriving at the airport, our wounded warriors are greeted by hundreds of local supporters waving American flags. Many people out there to greet the vets also hold up signs honoring them and thanking them for everything they have done for the rest of us. This incredible outpouring of love and support shows the vets what is in store for them for the rest of the week. Many are so overwhelmed by the support and love, and can hardly believe what is about to happen.
Once they arrive at the beach, there are a large number of volunteers on the beach and in the water to help them master the surfboards, the water and the waves. The warriors are introduced to
the healing power of the ocean through adaptive surf equipment and are taught by world-class instructors. Many volunteers also offer other supporting roles throughout the week to insure the safety and health of our visiting veterans. We all hope this is an experience they will never forget! This event has been so successful that it is held every year.