Defense Department News

Wounded Warriors ‘Catch a Wave’ as Part of Recovery


Wounded warriors, veterans, and their loved ones attended the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp here, Aug. 17-19.

Recovering service members, veterans, volunteers and their loved ones surf during the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp at San Onofre Beach at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 18, 2018. Operation Amped holds a surf camp for wounded, ill or injured service members at San Onofre Beach once a year.
Recovering service members, veterans, volunteers and their loved ones surf during the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp at San Onofre Beach at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 18, 2018. Operation Amped holds a surf camp for wounded, ill or injured service members at San Onofre Beach once a year. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Noah Rudash
Recovering service members, veterans, volunteers and their loved ones surf during the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp at San Onofre Beach at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 18, 2018. Operation Amped holds a surf camp for wounded, ill or injured service members at San Onofre Beach once a year.
180818-M-JN799-122
Recovering service members, veterans, volunteers and their loved ones surf during the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp at San Onofre Beach at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 18, 2018. Operation Amped holds a surf camp for wounded, ill or injured service members at San Onofre Beach once a year. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Noah Rudash
Photo By: Lance Cpl. Noah Rudash
VIRIN: 180818-M-JN799-122

Operation Amped is a nonprofit organization that promotes surfing therapy once a year to aid in the recovery of wounded, ill and injured veterans and active-duty service members, said Operation Amped co-founder Joseph Gabunilas.

Gabunilas said the program helps participants achieve positive changes in their lives.

‘Catching a Wave’ During Recovery

“It’s a good way to keep that negative stuff out of your mind, while catching a wave,” said retired Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. David Simons, an Operation Amped participant. “Surfing has given me a goal, something to work toward and keep my focus straight.”

Recovering service members, veterans, volunteers and their loved ones prepare to surf during the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp at San Onofre Beach at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 18, 2018. Thirteen wounded, ill or injured service members attended the three-day event allowing the wounded warrior community a recreational outlet designed to aid in their recovery.
Recovering service members, veterans, volunteers and their loved ones prepare to surf during the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp at San Onofre Beach at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 18, 2018. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Noah Rudash
Recovering service members, veterans, volunteers and their loved ones prepare to surf during the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp at San Onofre Beach at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 18, 2018. Thirteen wounded, ill or injured service members attended the three-day event allowing the wounded warrior community a recreational outlet designed to aid in their recovery.
180818-M-JN799-189
Recovering service members, veterans, volunteers and their loved ones prepare to surf during the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp at San Onofre Beach at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 18, 2018. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Noah Rudash
Photo By: Lance Cpl. Noah Rudash
VIRIN: 180818-M-JN799-189

Ocean therapy “is good for the mind,” Simons added. “It’s good for those that have difficult issues they’re dealing with.”

For three days each year, with the support of organizations such as Operation Amped, participants move closer to recovery one wave at a time.

Volunteers and supporters donate surfboards, wetsuits, food, tents and tables. Most importantly, they donate their time.

Operation Amped, which began in September 2006, has helped thousands, said Gabunilas, who served in the Army.

“This is my way of giving back,” Gabunilas said. “I served 21 years, and this is another way I can give back to the brave men and women fighting for our country.”