Former RAN Submariner Tex O'Grady and his dog Bundy - The force behind Two Dogs Sailing program. Photo: Coffs Coast Legacy

Former RAN Submariner Tex O’Grady and his dog Bundy – The force behind Two Dogs Sailing program. Photo: Coffs Coast Legacy

It is an unfortunate fact that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is prevalent in our veterans and emergency services community due to exposure to extreme trauma and stress situations. PTSD often leads to disability that presents itself in varying forms requiring many different approaches to treatment.

In the United States, Israel and here in Australia there is mounting evidence that indicates sailing has been highly beneficial in the treatment of those suffering with PTSD.

The challenges of learning to sail combined with the time spent on the sea and the experiences of camaraderie have provided mental and physical benefits to participants.

In the United States it has been labelled Sailing Adventure Therapy and there are several organisations who offer what one provider calls the Warrior Sailing Program.

The good news is that for veterans and emergency service personnel here on the Mid North Coast who suffer with PTSD is that, thanks to ex-Royal Australian Navy Submariner Tex O’Grady, a sailing program to assist with PTSD treatment will soon be available here in our area.

Known as the Two Dogs Sailing Program, Tex hopes to officially launch the program during Veterans Week in late October this year.

A PTSD suffer himself, Tex, supported by his dog Bundy, has been involved with a number of charities over the years and has been central to raising over six million dollars for those charities.

Tex has long been an outspoken advocate for mental health and knows very well the benefits of sailing through the calming effect of a day on the water and teamwork, leading to camaraderie.

Five years ago Tex identified a need for the provision of sailing to help PTSD suffers and began developing the Two Dogs Sailing Program. Participants will be able to take part in a wellness program where they can learn new skills such as seamanship at their own pace or simply relax on the boat if that is what works for them.

Those who become involved in the program will be participating with others who have PTSD with the benefit of having a mutual understanding with what each other is going through.

Although the program will be initially based out of Coffs Harbour, Tex hopes to be able to make the program available all along the East Coast and free of charge to participants.

It has taken Tex and his partner considerable time and effort to get Two Dogs off the ground as purchasing and restoring a boat has resulted in considerable out of pocket expenses. The program is currently unfunded however Tex is hopeful of some financial backing from the corporate or Government sector to assist with fuel and ongoing maintenance of the boat.

In partnership with Coffs Coast Legacy the Two Dog Sailing Program has been successful in securing a grant from the Newcastle.

Permanent Charitable Foundation of $79,000 dollars which will go along way in getting the program to the proposed October start date.

A typical day for participants on the program would see them spending most of the day on the boat, a 50ft steel ketch named ‘Mystic’, where they would get to know each other and enjoy the sailing experience together.

Mystic is fitted with a safety rail all around and even has the ability to keep all those onboard warm and dry should they encounter bad weather while at sea.

The Two Dogs Sailing Program is likely to be embraced by those in Mid North Coast veterans and emergency services communities suffering from PTSD.

If you would like to get in contact with Tex O’Grady to participate in the program or you are a business that might like to sponsor this unique program you can email me at nambucca-headssb@rslnsw.org.au and I will pass your contact details on to Tex O’Grady.

This story Valley Veterans: Sailing the way to healing first appeared on The Macleay Argus.

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