The Veteran Bodyboard Project.
Can you briefly introduce yourself and your involvement in Bodyboarding?
My name is Nathan McTigue and I am a 46yr old RAAF veteran living in Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast. I deployed to East Timor in 1999 and was medically discharged in 2002. Prior to service I was living on the Gold Coast and being in my late teens I was out as often as I could. I had a BZ and Manta boards and I would be heading down for a boog at least 4 – 5 times a week and loved every minute of it!
Once in the military, time and location prevented me from bodyboarding and I as such I fell away from it.
Can you give an overview of what the VETERAN BODYBOARD PROJECT is all about?
Our vision is to provide the opportunity for veterans, first responders and their families to experience, learn and enjoy bodyboarding as much as we do. With the physical and mental health benefits of being outdoors, on the coast and in the ocean as well as and connecting and socialising with like minded people,we hope to improve their quality of and love of life. With clinics, waves, mates, support and a mad feed and socialising afterwards there will be plenty of epic days and hopefully trips for all ages, abilities and genders.
Veterans helping Veterans…Growing the bodyboarding community.
Nature . Mateship . Support
Where did the idea come from?
After getting out of the military I battled, and still do, with my physical and mental health just like so many others. I tried to find something, a purpose, a reason for years. Something that not only did I enjoy but was good for my mental and physical health. I tried many things over the years but only ever felt the most at ease, the most peaceful on the coast near the ocean.
I have been through addiction, homelessness, rehab, divorce and have luckily ended up on the Sunshine Coast. I moved here in 2020 and was at Inverted Bodyboarding within the week grabbing a new setup. After 20yrs with only a handful of paddle outs getting out there again brought so many good memories flooding back and made me remember just how good this lifestyle is. It was exactly what I needed and if I was what I needed then surly there are others that need it , they just may no know it yet.
I made contact with Ben from Inverted Bodyboarding, Sunshine Coast Bodyboard Club and the Assosiation of Veteran Surfers on the Sunshine Coast and ran the idea past them. Incredibly appreciative that they loved the idea and got right on board with their support and now we are organising and looking forward to our official launch on 07 January!
What is the aim of VETERAN BODYBOARD PROJECT?
Connecting Veterans and First Responders through bodyboarding.
The promotion of a healthier, outdoor, coastal lifestyle.
To promote bodyboarding and grow the bodyboarding community.
To chill, destress, relax and have fun.
Why do you feel these kind of support groups and the discussions that they generate are important?
Withdrawing and isolating are common amongst veterans and first responders and can be signs that things may not be going so well. Having groups/organisations set up that provide a safe environment for these men, women and their families to relax and have some fun as well as have a chat with someone who really can understand what they are going through over a brew and a BBQ can have a really positive effect. The monthly get togethers, we like to call them our SHRED & SOCIALISE days are a great chance to catch up, meet new people and keep a check on how each other are doing.
Can you speak to the role the ocean can play in helping people deal with trauma and stresses in their lives?
I am no Doctor nor do I have a degree. I’m just a dude that barely passed year 10 and joined the military. All I can speak on is how I know how the ocean helps me relax, be more positive and puts a smile on my face and I would love to see that same stoke on others around the country.
There is a wealth of literature now on how spending time near or in the ocean alleviates mental health issues and generally invokes a calm, positive mental state. In a society that relies heavily on prescription medication to alleviate our ailments, its easy to forget that sometimes the best treatment comes from the purest of all sources Mother Nature!
Any last comments or information you’d like to include feel free here!
We’re going to attempt to get the most bodyboarders in one spot ever on the Sunny coast for our launch. All ages and abilities. Help promote bodyboarding and maybe set some sort of record !