Ever hear about that “epiphany” moment that some people have? Or of someone finding them self again on the tranquil setting of a mysterious mountain escape in the Himalayas? Well, my moment was on a Stand Up Paddleboard about a year ago, which literally brought balance back into my life and has changed me forever. My SUP is now part of my daily routine and has become a central focus within my life project Veteran Voyage 360.
I grew up in Miami, FL and of course ventured on the water often, kayaking, fishing, diving, and spear fishing. Even after joining the Army and serving more than 20 years at Ft Bragg, NC, my wife and 4 kids and I would often spend any serious off duty time on the Outer bank. My time in the Army was spent as an Airborne Ranger and Special Forces Delta Force Operator--often deployed or in a combat zone. During that time I had numerous Traumatic Brain Injuries from explosive blast and with cervical spine, vestibular, and optical nerve damage causing vertigo and major balance issues. However, when I finally returned to the water during recovery, and my first time on a SUP, the earth seemed to flatten out and stand still for me as the horizon leveled off again. This little miracle is all the better when I get to combine some fitness, fun, and fishing!
BOTE is a lifestyle company that suits our lives. We are now living in Merritt Island, FL and my wife and I volunteer for a nonprofit that helped to save my life in 2014 while receiving treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the wars. My endeavor, Veteran Voyage 360 is a series of extreme long distance journeys that begins with the Guinness World Distance Record expedition on my BOTE Traveller of over 3500 miles along the Coast of the United States. Veteran Voyage 360 represents the longest journey a soldier takes as he or she separates from the military after service in combat, and transitions into civilian life. Regardless of the length of service, whether 4 years or 24 years, returning to normal life can be a difficult struggle, and especially for those suffering from the physical and psychological wounds of war. The BOTE Team is making this dream possible, and helping to change the lives of many Veterans, just as they have for me.