Once a professional surfer, Van Curaza has dedicated his life to helping others suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through surfing. Today, Toby Mathis of Anderson Business Advisors talks to Van about Operation Surf—Healing Veterans Through Surfing. The program has therapeutic results. It’s not therapy or treatment. It's life-changing and life-saving.
- Why establish Operation Surf? Going through his own journey of recovery through addiction, Van wanted to not be so selfish, but give back.
- What started the process of helping active duty warriors? Rodney Roller, a Navy Corpsman and amputee surfer wanted to go surfing, again.
- Why focus on service members? Van understands wanting to be good at what you want to do when given a purpose and feeling of self-worth/self-efficacy to succeed in life.
- If a veteran is suffering from PTSD, do they get referred to Operation Surf? Due to extensive airtime, Van gets inquiries from all over the United States, as well as from locals that want to be involved.
- Why are outdoor recreational programs beneficial to veterans? Research studies and data prove that getting people out into nature, into the ocean is helpful for PTSD.
- What does it take to surf? An attitude adjustment. Most people think being able to surf means standing on two legs and standing on a surfboard. You're not going to surf like Van. You're going to surf like you.
- Just say, “Yes,” why? To create connections and relationships. Learn the effects and challenges that others are trying to overcome. Help somebody for the right reasons.
- Why vett veterans? As a non-profit organization, Operation Surf’s vetting process has veterans express their willingness to move forward and achieve maximum effectiveness
- What does Van look for in volunteers/instructors at Operation Surf? Ability to work together and understand your population by speaking their language to trigger specific behaviors, words, or actions.
- How can people help Operation Surf? Volunteer, donate, sponsor, participate, and bond. Whether it’s time, money—whatever you can do.