“Resurface” Spotlights Curative Powers of Surfing for Military Veterans

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Living in America, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t connected to the military by some degree. Maybe your grandfather fought in WWII or maybe a friend is currently serving overseas. This country was founded, and protected, by soldiers. We owe them everything. America is still the land of the free because of the sacrifices made by the brave. But what happens when those brave ones return home? Their service results in physical and mental consequences and residual effects that many people seem to overlook.

Approximately 1 in 3 combat veterans report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and only 40 percent seek help. It’s a harrowing statistic that always seems to ironically elude the mainstream media. While doctors and psychologists struggle to find an effective PTSD therapy treatment, a group of Bay Area filmmakers from Big Young Films and Fast and Light Productions set out to explore the natural healing powers of the ocean in a new documentary called “Resurface.”

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Bobby Lane paddling out. Photo courtesy of Resurface.

A wise man once said, “The cure for everything is saltwater: sweat, tears and the sea.” For the veterans highlighted in “Resurface,” this couldn’t be truer. The film spotlights the story of Bobby Lane, a soldier that suffered two severe brain injuries after his platoon was hit by a handful of roadside bombs in Iraq over the course of 11 days. Upon arriving home in Texas, he found it almost impossible to return to the life he had due to his PTSD. Sleepless nights and nightmares almost drove him to suicide… but surfing saved him. It brought him a peace he never knew he could feel.

“Now I see it, if life gets too hard, there’s always the ocean,” Lane said in the film.

The ocean has long been a source of refuge for many people. Now, with help from organizations like Operation Surf and the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, veterans are learning how to cope with their PTSD by focusing on surfing. Surfers understand that when you’re riding a wave, it’s difficult to think about anything else. Veterans use the act of surfing to clear their minds and overcome challenges. It leaves them with a sense of accomplishment and confidence.

“We want to leave people with the idea that there may be some very powerful sources of healing out there in the world beyond traditional therapeutic approaches or medication, that haven’t been fully explored. Imagine a doctor actually prescribing a day in the ocean, or a hike in the mountains,” said Josh Izenberg, the film’s co-director.

While surfing is not exactly a cure for PTSD, the film showcases the immensely powerful and positive effects it can have on the lives of soldiers living with this terrible condition.

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Riders learning to surf by the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation.

“Surfing offers the perfect storm of benefits for vets dealing with PTSD,” Izenberg explained. “It’s exciting and provides and adrenaline rush, while also offering the calm of being out in the ocean. There may be some actual neurological effect that the lateral motion of catching a wave has on the brain, but that’s still new territory. But there are a bunch of other things surfing offers: It’s communal, when you’re getting started, and requires some communication with instructors and reliance on other people to show you the ropes out in the water. The power of the ocean has a way of humbling us, in turn, putting things into perspective. And it’s exhausting. People with PTSD often times have trouble sleeping, since they can be disturbed by nightmares or invasive thoughts. Surfing generally tires people out to the point that they can finally get a good night’s rest, no matter what.”

“Resurface” is scheduled to be completed in late fall, however, fans can show their support the film by donating to their Kickstarter page. Fans may also follow their Facebook page for updates on the film, or tweet at them on their Twitter page!

Watch the trailer below for a sneak peak of the film:

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