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Stories of Service: Paddleboarding with Wounded Warrior Project

Wounded Warrior Project gave local veterans the opportunity to clear their minds and enjoy an afternoon of paddleboarding in Fernandina Beach.

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — First Coast News is proud to share the Stories of Service of the brave men and women who wear the uniforms of our armed forces. And we're also proud to showcase the great opportunities available to those service members when they come home from the service.

Wounded Warrior Project is a national non-profit charity that supports veterans and active duty service members in a variety of ways from counseling, job placement and, for at least one day, paddleboarding.

"It's one of those days that you're able to get out of bed and feel alive, you get to go in the water and feel the ocean breeze, the wind and water, you can smell it and enjoy everything about it," said one Warrior who took part in the paddleboarding event.

Wounded Warrior Project helped coordinate the event for more than a dozen veterans to paddle from Fernandina Beach to the Cumberland Island National Seashore.

"We'll get ready to launch here in about 15-20 minutes, time for the tide to change on us but we do have the wind at our back," said one of the paddleboarding instructors.

"We're today going out on paddleboarding with Jeff from Latitude 29," said one of the Warriors, "it's one of those things that gives you peace and calm and helps you with your mindset."

Peace and calm is not easily achieved by many veterans who return from active duty.

"In 2012 I did try to commit suicide," said one of the Warriors, "depression, PTSD, everything along those lines, but Wounded Warrior Project, I keep coming back because it's a foundation where other veterans come around and just be, no questions of what's wrong with you, just enjoy one another's company."

Another step closer to calm with every stroke of the paddle.

"From 2006 when I was injured in Iraq Wounded Warrior Project has been there for me since day 1 and any event that I can support, I'll be there," said one of the Warriors.

Wounded Warrior Project is celebrating its 20th anniversary of serving veterans and their families. They're also based in Jacksonville and more information about programs that they offer can be found on their website.

If you have a Story of Service that you would like us to profile, send us an email to storiesofservice@firstcoastnews.com

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