Harnessing the Healing Powers of the Ocean
What is the Saltwater Gospel? It is the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. It’s the smell of the salt air, the feel as the waves gently consume your body like a mother caresses her child. Its looking out over the vastness of the ocean then realizing just how small we are compared to the world on and under the sea. The Saltwater Gospel is what takes in every one of your senses all at one time. Listening to the call of Mother Ocean, then answering her call. That’s what the Saltwater Gospel is. Once you hear it, smell it, taste it, feel it, allow it to complete engulf your every sense, it becomes a religion to you.
The “Spreading the Saltwater Gospel” program developed by Veterans-365, empowers veterans and all participants to clear their minds, decompress and reconnect with themselves and their family while learning and developing a lifelong skill that can be passed on to future generations.
The program is very simple, and it is free to all. Participants sign up for the program, show up where we are holding it (at a local Texas beach), set up camp, then get involved with all the activities scheduled. Activities include fishing of course, beach volleyball, corn hole, Jeep rides, and many others. We have a separate program where we assemble teams and go out to various beaches and/or waterways and conduct cleanup efforts. All the activities are designed to give the veterans a sense of unit, a family of sorts, and they all focus on team building.
There are over 20 million veterans in the United States, more than any other country in the world. When these men and women return from duty, they face a lot of challenges: adjusting to civilian life, finding a job, reconnecting with family and friends, re-establishing themselves as part of the community, and many others. For many, this also includes physical injuries that they will never fully recover from. However, for the majority, the biggest trauma is in the mind.
PTSD, TBI, depression, and anxiety all take a heavy toll on the veterans. Around 13.5% of veterans suffer from PTSD alone. The government allocates billions of dollars to the mental health services for veterans, but traditional institutional forms of treatment don’t always work, and they are for the most part, a short-term fix. Veterans-365 has developed a program called “Spreading the Saltwater Gospel” that combines the healing power of the ocean with team building activities to become the therapeutic method for our veterans and other participants. Activities include fishing, beach and coastal waterway conservation, and beach recreational activities, to name just a few.
Being on or near the ocean provides major health benefits. But can this really combat PTSD? What makes it work? And most importantly, are people aware of just how effective it is? To find out more about the Spreading the Saltwater Gospel program, please contact us by email, email@example.com. If you are interested in becoming a participant in the program, go to our website and sign up, www.veterans-365.com.
Focus and Meditation
Spreading the Saltwater Gospel is a program that helps veteran’s, first responders, and all participants recover from PTSD, TBI, and other mental health issues by using the healing powers of the ocean. As fishermen (women) and avid beach goers ourselves, we have experienced how being on or very near the ocean a much-needed break from their daily stress.
Being on the beach is ideal-it’s a quiet place where one can free their mind, allowing the sights, sounds, and smells engulf them, and taking them to a place far away from their problems. There’s this whole interaction with nature. It’s just you and Mother Ocean, and you are 100% focused on everything she has to offer.
The “Spreading the Saltwater Gospel” program let’s veterans and all participants focus on the moment, finding a sense of calm. This is something that anyone can benefit from, but it is especially helpful for people with a military mindset. Because they are mission-minded, they need something to focus on. Focusing on making a catch becomes their nest small mission. It gives them a way to unplug, something to focus on. And afterward, they have release. It may or may not be long-term, but they have a release, a new focus, a new bit of confidence, then they are ready for the next mission, the next catch.
The ocean has a powerful meditative effect on the mind. It’s the idea of having to focus on something. Watching the pole, listening to the drag from the reel, setting the hook, all those things that you have to be very focused to do. It creates this very mindful, in-the-moment state. It ties into the theory of flow-the meeting of challenge and ability.
All the activities that are part of the Spreading the Saltwater Gospel program are a challenge. The perception of meeting the challenge and being able to do it creates a flow state. It can help people reach mindfulness. You’re in the moment, you’re in control, you’re the one making it happen for as long or as short as you want.
Flow, mindfulness, meditation-this may all sound a little new age, but it has been proven to improve a person’s wellbeing. Several things come together with our program, all of which help people find peace. They are in a natural environment. The beaches are beautiful, warm, inviting, and it helps people. It calms the mind. There’s also this very therapeutic, calming effect of the ocean, and the constant mesmerizing movement of the waves. There are just so many elements that all come together through the Spreading the Saltwater Gospel program.
Restoring Lost Camaraderie
One of the most powerful parts of the Spreading the Saltwater Gospel program has nothing to do with being near the ocean. Getting out and interacting with other veterans builds a sense of community, a safe place to talk. This is vital for people suffering from social anxiety, which goes hand in hand with PTSD. And its also something that many veterans really miss when they return to civilian life. When you ask our participants what it is about the Spreading the Saltwater Gospel, they find most helpful, it always comes down to the staff there and the camaraderie of the participants. They always talk about it and what they miss from being in the military.
People with PTSD, anxiety, depression, they feel alone. They feel like they’re the only one who knows what they’re experiencing or going thru. Inherently they know that isn’t true, but that’s the way they feel.
So, when we can bring together a group of individuals together that were all in the military and are all experiencing similar symptoms, they can, and probably will, talk about it. They can give each other advice, and they can realize that they aren’t alone and that they have this group of people that know how they feel and what they are going through. Building that sense of community and camaraderie is the number one priority for Veterans-365 and the Spreading the Saltwater Gospel program. This organization is designed to act as a mutual support network, where people can get together and socialize in a safe, stress-free environment. Fishing is just one part of the program.
At the moment, we hold one weekend program a month starting on Thursday and ending on Sunday. Thursday is set up day where each participant sets up their campsite, whether it be a tent or an RV, and we try to keep each campsite within close proximity of each other. We get the volleyball net set up, and any other games that are there for the participants and their families to enjoy. Friday, we kick off the fishing tournament. Saturday holds the volleyball tournament the first half of the day, and the corn hole tournament the second half, then Sunday we hand out awards. Each night holds a different campfire supper followed by a campfire discussion where all sit around with one another and engage, sometimes to the wee hours of the morning. For a lot of them, it’s the first time they’ve been out of the house and talking to people who get it.
Veterans-365 is also one of the only organizations that includes families in their programs. Family is vital in the healing process because to make long-lasting change, you must include the whole family.
Our program is very low key. Bring the family, hang out, fish, play some games, but most importantly, have fun. It’s like going to a big family outing at the beach. Everyone has something to do, and it’s just calming, it’s therapeutic, and most of all, IT’S FUN. This program is meant to be one that is cherished and remembered for a lifetime.
Exercise for All
Conditions like post-traumatic stress can have a serious impact on the body as well as the mind. Even just leaving the house can become a major challenge, making it tough to stay fit. This is why people with PTSD are more likely to be overweight. The Spreading the Saltwater Gospel program can be a great way to get back some of that fitness attitude.
There is an important physical aspect of this program, you’re getting out, walking up and down the beach (or pier), carrying your gear and equipment, playing volleyball and other physically demanding games-that’s a lot of physical work that you don’t realize is happening. Even casting. Casting takes work, its not hard work, but if you do it 100 or more times in a day, it’s going to work muscles that haven’t been worked in a while.
The activities associated with our program are activities everyone can enjoy. And getting out and seeing that they can do it gives the veterans and all participants a much-needed confidence boost.
They get out there. They start doing that bit of exercise. For a lot of them, it may be the first they’ve done in a very long time. They realize they can do it, which gives them the confidence to continue on.
Another reason it’s so effective is that it’s easy to do. You can have limited mobility, you can have a disability, it doesn’t matter. It levels the playing field.
Quick Relief, Lasting Benefit
Anyone who’s been fishing or has been to the beach knows how relaxing it can be. The question is: Is this a Band-Aid, a short-term fix, or can it have a more lasting impact on peoples’ mental state? Well, actually it can be both:
“For individuals that only do it for those 3 or 4 days a month once or twice a year, it’s a short-lived impact. But for those individuals that become more engaged, it’s a lifelong pursuit. It’s something that any age, any ability, anybody can do. That’s another big positive for the Saltwater Gospel, it’s something that you can always continue practice and grow.
Our events and programs are not an organized retreat by any means, it’s a program that absolutely changes the lives of those participating, something that people can keep doing long after they leave us, and something they can pass on to future generations. Even without that social aspect of being around other veterans, they still get all the benefits that the Saltwater Gospel brings. They have a new hobby, a new passion, and for some people, even a new job.
We hope that for some of the veterans going through our program, that this becomes their career, their passion as it is ours, one they want to share with other people. Granted, this program isn’t for everyone, but it is definitely a path that can lead to many other opportunities.
Our goal is that the participants keep coming back month after month, and after a while, they buy their own gear and equipment, their own fishing rods and reels and start bringing it to the program, this frees up our gear and equipment for a new participant. Then they want to get actively involved with the program and become volunteers or become part of the leadership team for Veterans-365. Once this happens, we know our program is a success because the veteran has taken the next step and is moving on along the path to healing.
This path is a journey and takes a long time, but with the help of this program and the magnificent healing powers of the ocean, they can stay focused. They will always have a spot in the Spreading the Saltwater Gospel program. After a while, Spreading the Saltwater Gospel will become more widely well know, more accepted. People will begin to understand the real power and benefits of the sea and all that Mother Ocean has to offer.