Since she was discharged from the Army in 2012, Justine McCarthy of Summerville rarely ventured more than a mile and a half from her house, other than to go to the VA hospital.
The veteran, who endured tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, suffered from an injury in 2007 and from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Her husband, a Marine who served from 2000 to 2005, was a part of the invasion of Iraq.
Last year, McCarthy decided that their three children, who she says “didn’t ask to be saddled with two combat veterans as parents,” needed to learn to surf. She booked the lessons with Charleston Surf Lessons on Folly Beach.
At the time, McCarthy had no idea that the owner, Joshua Wilson, and one of his surfing instructors, Andrew Manzi, were starting a new surfing program for veterans called Warrior Surf Foundation.
Manzi says one of the reasons why he thinks surfing has a soothing, healing effect on people has to do with “flow theory,” described by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as gaining a high level of enjoyment and energy by focusing on a specific physical activity.
He also points to the 2014 book, “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do,” by Wallace J. Nichols, that dives into the neuroscience of why being near or on the water benefits mood.