Valhalla Sailing Project puts Annapolis Veterans on the Water

Competitive boating team Battling PTSD
Posted at 7:06 PM, Nov 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-23 19:06:51-05
A new group of Maryland veterans is making waves against post traumatic stress through competitive sailing.
It's tough, but worth it, according to Army Staff Sergeant Jeremy Todd.
"What kind of crazy person wants to get up at seven o'clock on a Saturday morning after working all week, get together and get out on the freezing water?" Todd said.
Todd served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a broadcast journalist. He said getting shot at was the easy part. Coming home was tougher.
"I had problems maintaining finances, daily activities like paying attention to what's going on, finding your way to work," Todd said. "I don't know what it is."
Now Todd races boats with the Valhalla Sailing Project.

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The Valhalla Sailing Project was born one year ago out of the idea that a tough, team-based, competitive sport may help veterans fill the emptiness of losing their military family.
Sailing requires positions, duties, close quarters and communication.
"You're talking about strategy. You're talking about tactics, but you're talking about yourselves," said co-founder Mike Wood. "You're talking about what happened during your week at work. You're talking about the things that happened with your family."
Todd said that the idea is working.
"Out here, there are different rounds coming at you. Whether the main is coming down the wrong way or the jib is not turning the right way, there are so many different issues coming at you," he said. "It brings you right back to where you were when you were in combat."
The Valhalla Sailing Project is now up to 16 members and is holding clinics to teach new recruits to sail.
It sailed in five races so far, winning third place in the team's debut.
Todd said the experience was an unexpected, but welcome, turn of events in his new life as a civilian. Being part of a close-knit team again has changed everything.
"It's an opportunity that I had while I was in the Army that I lost for a little bit and it's really good to regain it," he said.
Valhalla is looking for new members, new races and new opportunities as it fulfills its mission of helping veterans feel better, according to Wood.
"No other sport have I ever participated in where I felt the sense of camaraderie as I do on a race boat," he said.

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