From May 7-9, 2014, the College of Charleston Sailing Complex along with nonprofit Hope for the Warriors, will host a group of six-to-nine veterans for a sailing clinic.
Jacob Raymond, senior English major and assistant dockmaster at the Sailing Complex, will be instructing veterans at the event. “We’ll be on the water teaching them how to sail and trying to make it enjoyable,” Raymond said. “We try to make it exhilarating and challenging, too, because part of the reason these people joined the military is for the sense of adventure.”
RELATED: Check out Hope for the Warriors
Raymond speaks from experience, as he, too, is a former veteran who returned in 2008 from Bagdad, Iraq where he served in the 132nd Military Police Company for the S.C. Army National Guard. He began working toward his bachelor’s degree in 2009, starting with a “beginning sailing” course.
“The first year after the war was very challenging,” Raymond said. “I didn’t have any direction and I had spent almost all the money I’d saved from Iraq. I didn’t set foot on a sailboat until I took the job as a dock attendant at the Sailing Complex. It was really nice of the dockmaster at the time, Collin Bentley, to take a chance on me.”
The chance Bentley took hiring Raymond paid off in more ways than one. “I worked my way up from dock assistant to instructor to assistant dockmaster, and I’ll become a full-time employee after I graduate. Sailing was an adrenaline rush, and it provided me a way to become part of a community again.” Raymond said.
He hopes the veterans who are flown to the College will feel the same way. “Veterans who return from war, especially the ones who come back with wounds, feel displaced and detached from society,” Raymond said. “As a result, we see very high unemployment, homelessness and suicide rates among veterans and it’s heartbreaking. Clinics like these give them the opportunity to feel like part of a community.”
Raymond is excited to host the Hope for the Warriors group, and he anticipates many similar events to come. For the College’s part, Raymond and sailing program director Greg Fisher (whose son has recently returned from serving in Afghanistan) have organized the three-day curriculum, recruited volunteers and prepared sailboats for use.
One volunteer will be a familiar face to Raymond and Fisher – now-retired Bentley, a former Navy diver, will be on hand to teach and assist with the clinic as well.
“This is very near to all of our hearts,” Raymond said. “I’m really excited about the event.”