Wowed by veterans

Published 8:26 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2018

It seems nonsensical, almost. How could jumping out of a plane help heal post-traumatic stress disorder?

But the Combat Wounded Coalition recently celebrated its 12th Jumping for a Purpose at Skydive Suffolk, and the event celebrated nine graduates of the Overcome Academy, which is a new program that helps veterans find purpose, resiliency, leadership skills and more to make it past the illnesses and unseen injuries that result from their time of service.

Unfortunately, not everybody made it. Ron Condrey, a U.S. Navy veteran who struggled with mental health issues stemming from traumatic brain injury, took his own life three weeks before the event. His wife was among the first to jump.

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Many Gold Star family members also jumped on Saturday, seeking release from the grief of losing a loved one to their military service.

But you might still be asking the question: How does skydiving help people heal?

As U.S. Marine Corps veteran Osvaldo Martinez put it on Saturday, “When you jump, all your problems are gone and you only worry about one thing — you jumped out of a plane. Once in a while you have to get rid of your problems, and I felt like this was necessary.”

Another U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Chad Shevlin, said the Overcome Academy changed him.

“This academy had torn down walls that I didn’t think would ever come down,” he said. “It put things in perspective.”

When it comes to the post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues that many of our veterans are suffering from, it’s best to listen to the veterans themselves. Military brass, lawmakers and, many times, even doctors can only pay lip service. The veterans who have been on the front lines know how they are suffering, and they are increasingly speaking out on what is helping them heal.

We are proud that this skydiving event is hosted in Suffolk through Skydive Suffolk, and we are proud of the many veterans and family members who found hope through the event.

We hope it continues to come back as long as there’s a need for it, and that the community continues to support it.