The Wind Sports for Wounded Warrior (ws4ww) program offered me an opportunity to try something just risky enough to get my attention, so I tried it. With every session I put in, my kiteboarding skills improved slightly while my circle of friends expanded exponentially.The program gave me a place and time to be there, what would have been called a “hard-time” in my former line of work. These hard-times pulled me away from my normal routine of limited contact with other people. You see; if left to my own devices I will not willingly venture into society anymore. With kiteboarding being a big enough carrot to lure me out, I found myself among society as I learned this new sport.
Each lesson was a goal, a time-hack to meet, a place to be. This seemingly benign fact made all the difference. Sometimes all you need is a reason to get you back in the world for a while and ws4ww gave me a reason that worked. I already surfed regularly but I was able to surf alone. ‘Alone’ wasn’t an option for me with kitebording (and it still isn’t). I had to be shown the ways of this strange new, gear-heavy, sport. There is a seemingly inexhaustible source of people willing to launch or land a kite with no more than a few pats of the head as a signal. I have yet to come across a kiteboarder unwilling to talk (at great length) about why they are using a particular kite or board.
I was given a hard-time to be somewhere and along the way I ended up meeting new people and making new friends. I would imagine this to be a normal course of events for most people, but to me, this is something I had to re-learn. It’s easy to feel forgotten, but every now and again a group like WS4WW comes along to remind you that some people still remember, and that they want you back in the world.
Neil B. US Army Purple Heart Recipient

I entered the service in July 2003 just after high school as a Medical Laboratory Technician. After completing schools in Texas and Mississippi, I was then stationed back in San Antonio, Texas until 2007. As a lab technician, I had one deployment to Iraq working closely with the ER and ORs and witnessing first hand mass casualties. I got a taste of working with a few special operations medics (18D) while there, and knew my personality fit more into the realm of the SOF world. Once back from that deployment, I did anything I could to cross-train early. My career path then switched to a Loadmaster and later to Special Missions Aviator; however, I specifically opted to work with Special Operations units. I then went through the various schools to become aircrew and then got assigned AC-130U Gunships stationed at Hurlburt Field, FL. I have been blessed to see other countries while flying back and forth from overseas deployments. I deployed with my squadron 4 times (OEF/OIF) both as a planner between the different ground SOF assets and the Gunship, and as my aircrew position.
In July of 2012 I went into the Altitude Chamber for recurrent training, but in fact never finished. I initially was diagnosed with Type 2 Decompression Sickness, but then later learned that this caused a brain injury of sorts. Little did I know I would never fly again, or get the chance to take my deployment spot that was leaving in a few weeks. Since the injury, I have gone to Texas for hyperbaric treatments, and multiple doctors to help stabilize some of my conditions. I am thankful that 2 years later I am able to ride my motorcycle again, be able to run with my dog, and have started to participate in activities again.
I have personally found that doing adaptive sports and camps has brought me hope to my life. Not only does it allow me to participate in active and challenging sports and activities, but it builds confidence and brings me together with people that have gone through some of the same experiences and struggles. Brain injuries are not something that can be seen or easy to talk about; but, through these programs, its easier make new friends that I can relate with and talk to. It brings back the camaraderie that is sometimes lacking in my normal life. I lived a very active lifestyle prior to injury, and now, I want to find the old me and bring it out again.
Erin McLoughlin US Air Force Special Missions Aviator

I was able to attend a Wind Sports for Wounded Warriors event at Sullivan’s Island, SC, in June 2014, and had an amazing time. I got to do kiteboarding training for three days with some great instructors and was given all the gear I need to go out and ride on my own. I’ve always thought kiteboarding looked like great fun and would be an activity that my injuries wouldn’t hold me back in, but the cost of gear and training kept me from trying it. I’m extremely grateful that WS4WW gave me the opportunity to get started in the sport.
I was incredibly impressed at how the three days in Sullivan’s Island was planned and executed. Unlike some of the larger charities doing events like this, it was apparent that this event wasn’t thrown together with a bottomless bank account. It was made possible because individuals and businesses donated the nights we stayed in their beach house, meals at local restaurants, kiteboarding gear, and all the time that volunteers took to travel there and train us. While I think WS4WW is a great organization and I’d love to see them have the kind of support that larger ones get, it was really nice to see how many people said yes and made a more personal effort to help make this event happen. And the fact that one guy, Carlos Poysky, took this idea, reached out to so many people, got together a ton of great supporters and pulled it all off amazes me.
Carlos is intensely driven to kiteboard and help injured vets. As a veteran himself, he gets that I’m not looking for recognition or sympathy. I miss comradeship and challenges. Just the chance to hang out with a group of guys who’ve been in similar situations, have shared experiences, aren’t impressed by what I’ve done and who will laugh at my weak little “fake leg” excuses was exactly what I’ve been missing since leaving the Army; better than clinical therapy. As thankful as I am for all the free kiteboard gear and training, I’m just as grateful for the nights sitting on the porch with awesome people who will be friends for life. Thanks for making that happen Carlos.”
Mark R. US Army Ranger Purple Heart Recipient