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"This Is The Most Relaxed I've Felt In My Entire Life"

Updated: Jun 26

On May 31st SailAhead and the Stirling Harbor Foundation went sailing with a group of women veterans in Oyster Bay. Sailing has profound positive implications on mental health for people suffering from PTSD or depression. On this sail, one veteran said she was "the most relaxed I've felt in my entire life." These are meaningful words when they come from a veteran who has deployed multiple times to combat zones, and we are proud to have facilitated that emotion!

Our View From Arcadia: The Stirling Harbor Foundation's Classic's Race

Chances are if you're reading this you already understand the intrinsic healing properties of being on the water. Humanity has filled libraries with books and poems about the sea's majesty, and enthralling effects.

Sailing in historic Oyster Bay adds a layer of coolness to the experience as we consider its history. Sagamore Hill overlooks the bay. Theodore Roosevelt chose it as his primary residence later in life and entertained guests and conducted much of his political business there.

Cold Spring Harbor also has a rich maritime history. During America's whaling days, a whaling company grew to have nine whaling ships that were based there, helping to power American lights and homes for decades until the whaling industry vanished almost overnight.

Sailing in a place with this kind of history makes each trip all the more interesting, and can help to put our life into perspective. This kind of awareness and appreciation can contribute to the therapeutic aspect that sailing already provides.

"This is the most relaxed I've felt in my entire life!"

Retired US Army Major Clare Martinez has been sailing with us since 2023, after learning about SailAhead through our friends at the Northport VA.

Clare's experience in the military spanned more than 20 years before she was medically discharged with complex PTSD.

Clare has taken multiple thousands of photos and videos for military documentation, and spent considerable time in combat zones.

At one point during the sail, Clare walked to the bow and lied down to take in the fabulous moment. As we prepared to tack we asked her to move aft. She had a smile that projected serenity and contentment.

The bow of Arcadia, as seen from the forward cockpit

Jackie Gordon

Jackie has been sailing with us for 10 years! You can watch her story in this video made by USA Warrior Stories.

Jackie served in the Army for almost three decades, and has led thousands of men and women in around the world and in war-torn countries. For Jackie, sailing is not an activity she wants to miss!

View inside the forward cockpit

After the sail we all went into town to have dinner. It was the perfect way to punctuate a great afternoon.

Sailing is a perfect medium to foster camaraderie. In sailing, a boat's crew is responsible for keeping each other safe, and for operating the boat responsibly. Due to the complexity and physicality required to operate sailboats (especially larger ones!) a fraternal feeling grows easily as strangers become a crew, and after years, a family!

The Whole Crew Gets Dinner!

If you want to help keep us going, consider making a donation!

Women experience unique challenges when they join the military.

General Statistics

  • Representation: Women make up about 17% of active-duty military personnel, which varies by branch:

    • Army: ~15%

    • Navy: ~20%

    • Air Force: ~21%

    • Marine Corps: ~9%

  • Leadership: Women hold approximately 10% of the general officer ranks in the military.

Military Sexual Trauma (MST)


  • About 1 in 4 women (25%) and 1 in 100 men (1%) reported experiencing MST, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

  • In 2020, the Department of Defense (DoD) reported that approximately 6.2% of active-duty women and 0.7% of active-duty men experienced sexual assault within the past year. Reporting:

  • Underreporting is a significant issue. It's estimated that only 30% of women report incidents of sexual assault.

  • The DoD received 7,816 reports of sexual assault involving service members in FY2020, a 1% increase from the previous year. Impact:

  • MST survivors often face long-term psychological effects, including PTSD, depression, and anxiety.

  • Female veterans who experienced MST are more likely to experience homelessness and have higher rates of unemployment compared to their male counterparts and women who did not experience MST.

Career Progression and Challenges

  • Retention Rates: Women have lower retention rates compared to men. Factors include work-life balance challenges, family responsibilities, and incidents of harassment and discrimination.

  • Combat Roles: Women have been officially allowed in combat roles since 2016, but integration has been gradual and met with various challenges.

  • Pay and Promotions: Gender disparities in pay and promotions persist. Women are less likely to reach senior ranks compared to their male counterparts.

Health and Well-being

  • Mental Health: Female veterans are more likely to experience mental health issues than male veterans, partly due to higher rates of MST.

  • Physical Health: Women in the military report higher rates of musculoskeletal injuries, largely due to the physical demands of training and service.

Recent Developments

  • Policy Changes: There have been recent policy changes aimed at addressing sexual harassment and assault, improving maternity leave, and providing better support for families.

  • Support Programs: Programs like the VA’s MST support services and various military branches' initiatives aim to provide counseling and support for survivors.

These statistics highlight the unique challenges faced by women in the military, particularly regarding MST and career progression, while also showing areas where progress is being made.


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