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New program uses sailing to help veterans with PTSD, other conditions

Posted at 7:17 PM, Jan 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 08:16:30-05

PHOENIX — Soon, former services members getting treated at the Phoenix VA Health Care System can learn to sail as part of their adaptive sports program.

"It gives veterans a chance to build comradery," said Joshua Parks, a recreation therapist with the VA.

"When we get out of the service, it's something we all start to miss so having events like this where the vets can work together for a common goal and common good, it really builds that espirit de corps and get them motivated," he added.

The program launches next month and is a partnership between the Phoenix VA and a local sailing school, Tiller and Kites.

"My neighbor is a therapist at the VA so one thing led to another," said Victor Felice, the school's owner.

According to Felice, sailing can be beneficial both physically and mentally.

"So you get the best of both worlds, and it can all be done through sailing and boats," he said.

The program can be used by veterans with physical conditions or mental health disorders like PTSD. 

According to the VA, up to 20% of veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Veterans and volunteers are working to paint the boat before taking it to Lake Pleasant in February. 

The program already has 11 veterans signed up.