Veterans on Deck program helps vets cope with sailing

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Veterans on Deck crew{}sticks together. They didn't know each other before they started sailing, but now they're friends who anchored each other's lives.

"I tend to withdrawal when I'm going through something. So coming out here is good. It takes my mind off of all the things I worry about every day," said{}Peggy Aguilon Wade, who spent 20 years serving in the Army.

They knew eachother's struggles. Some had post-traumatic stress. Others had disabilities. But, their military service united them.

"I didn't have a lot of military female friends," Coast Guard veteran Johnnie Gibson said.{}"But since I've been in this program, I've met people."

The women sail every Friday with Veterans on Deck, a nonprofit organization. Its organizers said sailing was therapeutic.

"We put them in a slightly stressful situation, and they see that with the cooperation of other people they work with, they can get through that situation," Michael Marzluff said.

"We come out here and{}we may not talk anything about our problems. We're just out here enjoying the sail," Navy veteran Valencia said.

For navy veteran Valencia,{}the program was{}a welcome return to the water. She said she went through divorce and depression.

A VA therapist casts off with each sail, but the women said when they're rocking at sea, talking to eachother, steadies their minds.

"Especially if they're people who have similar problems. It's nice to have someone.{} You feel like you're not alone," Valencia said.

"Working together as a team really helps a lot," Aguilon Wade said.

All females who are active duty or veterans are invited on the women's sail; it leaves from Ashley Marina every Friday at 11 a.m. The open sail is for both male and female veterans; it leaves at 2 p.m. every Friday.