Working Towards Healing: Inaugural Veteran Sailing in Buffalo
We are thrilled to share an exciting update – the remarkable success of our very first veteran sailing outing in the heart of Western NY! One month ago, on August 5th, SailAhead executed a long-planned transformative journey to bring the healing power of sailing to our beloved veterans and their families. Here is the incredible experience and our plans for an even brighter future. This process began months in advance, and required trust to be built by strangers united in a common cause. The strength and generosity of our new Buffalo community sends a signal of hope for the future as we plan to continue working together to empower veterans through sailing.
Setting Sail for Healing and Camaraderie
Picture this: over 40 veterans and their family members, and a crew of dedicated volunteers gathered at RCR Yachts in the Buffalo River for a day that would etch memories forever. With the sails unfurled and the wind at our backs, we ventured into the vast expanse of Lake Erie. The feeling of unity and shared purpose was palpable as we sailed close together, leaving behind the world's stressors and embracing the therapy of the open water. We had the beautiful city of Buffalo at our backs, and going past the USS Little Rock we pursued our fleet's much grander purpose: to save lives through sailing.
Many veterans report a sense of loneliness after transitioning out of the military. This is due in part to the separation from a squad, or unit, they may have been a part of while in service. Through our events, and sailing generally, a sense of team is formed. In order for SailAhead events to come together, dozens of community members from all backgrounds have to all agree to the mission, and work together to create a special day for veterans. In the world of sailing, all crew-members are vital for the operation of the boat. Without everyone's cooperation and good communication a sailboat doesn't get to where it needs to be. This creates a sort of "forced group therapy" session.
An Unforgettable Culmination
The journey wasn't just about the sailing; it was about the connections forged, the stories shared, and the bonds strengthened. Our day on the water was preceded by speeches made by Sean Duclay, and Air Force Tech Sergeant Chad Miller. Our events are not just about sailing, they are meant to also be mediums to spread post-traumatic stress and veteran suicide awareness.
After the speech we all set to the boats and sailed for a few hours. The event concluded with a heartwarming luncheon, where sailors, veterans and their family members could process all of the emotions of the day. For many people in attendance, Chad's story about his own struggles with suicide were all too familiar. Chad's speech reminded us that despite our personal trials and tribulations, we are constantly able to reinvent ourselves. We have decisions to make every day of our lives, and we can build on decision after decision until we become new people entirely.
SailAhead's mission is three-fold:
Use sailing and the ocean as a therapeutic platform to foster healing in our military community.
Spread post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and veteran suicide awareness.
Honor and remember Our Mates.
The presence of the U.S. Coast Guard lent an air of honor and reverence to the occasion. The Coast Guard's solidarity with our veterans served as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by these individuals to protect our nation's freedoms.
We extend our deepest gratitude to the U.S. Coast Guard for their meaningful participation, as well as to Diana Augspurger and the ten incredible skippers whose expertise and dedication were instrumental in making this event possible.
Charting a Course for the Future
Our Buffalo journey is only just beginning. We are thrilled to announce our plans for establishing a SailAhead chapter in Buffalo. Our mission to heal wounded veterans through the transformative experience of sailing is gaining momentum. With your unwavering support, we aim to create a safe and nurturing environment that fosters both personal healing and lasting connections among our local veterans.
And here's a glimpse of what's on the horizon: we're returning next year with an event that promises to be even bigger and better! Building upon the success of our inaugural outing, we're excited to envision a larger gathering that will touch the lives of more veterans, families, and the entire Buffalo community. Together, we'll make an even more profound impact and create a ripple effect of positivity and change.
Gratitude and Anticipation
As we reflect on the success of our first veteran sailing outing, we want to express our deepest gratitude to each and every one of you – our supporters, partners, volunteers, and participants. Your belief in our mission and your enthusiastic engagement fuel our determination to continue making a difference in the lives of our veterans.
As we sail towards an even brighter future, we invite you to join us on this incredible journey. Together, we can honor our veterans, build bridges of understanding, and create a legacy of healing that resonates for years to come, and most importantly, save lives.