Operation Surf kicked off its 10th year anniversary by greeting a mixture of 30 wounded veterans and active military members at the San Luis Obispo Regional Airport.
Eight of those military members are local veterans.
The Avila Beach based non-profit organization greeted the participants alongside local residents, first responders, and military support groups.
The military members are gearing up to kick off a week long program of healing and surfing fully funded by Operation Surf.
Kegan Gill, a veteran and Operation Surf program alum says he returned to become a volunteer after realizing how much of an impact the program had on his own life.
”This is a very organic way to get a chance to talk to people who are similar to you, who understand and have been there and then just how healthy it is to be in the water. Feeling the power of the waves and being present in the moment, kind of helps you forget about some of your problems and cope with some of the issues in a healthy way," added Gill.
A spot in the program costs the organization $5,000 and is paid for through donations from the community. The trip includes airfare, meals, hotels, and surfing lessons.
Van Curaza started the organization after seeing the positive impact surfing had throughout his struggle with addiction and believes it is helping heal veterans one wave at a time.
“Every volunteer has a part in that and it is because of their replying back to their care for our community is the reason why I want them to know, thank you, you’re a huge part of our program Operation Surf" said Curaza.
If you would like to learn more about Operation Surf, volunteering or how to donate, click here.