CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Veterans from across the Lowcountry are joining veterans from across the nation here in Charleston
It is all part of the Warrior Sailing program, a three-day course March 7-9, that teaches veterans how to take on the water. The event is free of charge.
The participating veterans explained how it brings potential new careers and the waters are therapeutic.
"It's helped me so much with a lot of things that I have going on," U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Ramesh Haytasingh said.
Haytasingh has served 8 combat tours. He has been an active member of the Navy for more than 19 years. While serving, he developed hyper-acoustic hearing. He said being out on the water gives him a break from the noise.
"When I'm in a sailboat, it's amazing. Everything is quiet," Haytasingh said. He explained the waters are calming, especially to veterans. "It's not jumping out of planes and it's not blowing things up and it's not doing something that I love but it is still doing something that I have fallen in love with. It's like a dream to be out there."
The program is not just a boat ride. Warrior Sailing instructors make sure each participant leaves with a new set of skills. Some of them even earn new certifications.
"The instructors are so patient, they have such awesome attitudes and are extremely knowledgeable," Haytasingh said.
"We want people to leave here with a skill where they can go back home and join a community and go sailing," Warrior Sailing director Ben Poucher said.
Instead of adapting to a veterans injuries or special needs, Warrior Sailing instructors say they keep an 'inclusive environment.'
"We do also have some equipment to help people with some physical disabilities," Poucher said. "We also really cater and teach a skill to the people that might need a little extra time, whether that's non-visible injuries like PTSD or brain injuries or things that affect people's daily lives."
Each spring, Warrior Sailing teams up with the College of Charleston to provide this event to veterans free of charge.
"College of Charleston is one of the best places that we come," Poucher said. "We come back every year because of our partners here at the College of Charleston. They provide the facilities and the boats."
The harbor resorts and clubs also pitch in, opening their doors to make sure every meal is provided.
"To bring a group of people so worthy of learning this sport and learning this community and getting to know everybody sailing. It's as much for me and the coaches as it is for the participants," Poucher said.
"I just cannot say thank you enough to the community that's reached out to us and helped us with a lot of these no-cost to free things that we've received," Haytasingh said.