Wounded Warrior Battalion West Learns To Surf Courtesy The Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation

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Ernie and Chris Gerold and Mr. Miller.

All photos: Aaron Checkwood.

The Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation returned to Camp Pendleton, CA for the 5th time this summer to help the “Wounded Warrior Battalion West” learn to surf.  This unit is comprised of returning veterans from Iraq who have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI )and post traumatic stress (PST).  The men and women in the unit learned the basics of surfing in July and August and were able to practice their skills with the volunteers from JMMF on Thursday, September 25.  The volunteer group from JMMF, headed by occupational therapist and Los Angeles County Lifeguard, Carly Rogers and JMMF coordinator, Mark Gerold, brought good waves and stoke to the Marines who attended this surf session.  Each Ocean Therapy Surf Session starts with introductions, surfing basics on land and then surfing in the water for as long as stamina and waves allow.  There is a brief snack and discussion break, where the Marines and volunteers share what happened in the water and how the skills used in surfing can be used in real life.  Then, it’s back to the waves.  All the marines stood up, some began angling and eventually hit the outside to take some waves by themselves, while the JMMF volunteers cheered from the water and the beach.

The Foundation was presented with a plaque of appreciation from the Wounded Warrior Battalion West in a short ceremony during the break from surfing.  According to Lt. Colonel Greg Martin, “By teaching these Marines how to surf, The Jimmy Miller Foundation has given them skills and a passion that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.  We are very grateful for the time and effort spent in the water and on the beach.  They even grew to like the ‘kumbaya sessions and talking about their feelings’ that were a part of each surf session.  We hope you will come back every summer.”

The Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization #20172191 is dedicated to honoring the life of our inspiration, Jim Miller, by supporting the healing of mental and physical illness through surfing and ocean related activities.  Through recreational, educational, and mentoring programs, the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation will bring together surfers, educators, therapists, lifeguards and friends to help people affected by mental and physical illness feel the joy and healing power of the ocean and surfing.  The Foundation also supports other charities that support the protection, preservation, appreciation and safe enjoyment of the oceans beaches and marine environment.  Our mission is to carry on the legacy of Jim’s pure love of surfing by showing the ocean’s power to heal.