I don’t think anyone would disagree that participating in sports and athletics has proven to be a great way to help injured service members recover from the wounds they have suffered as members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

(Ben Currie)

Sports allows them to hone both physical agility and mental focus, skills that are critical in their recovery as they learn and practice with fellow wounded service members.  It allows this fraternity to swap stories, share strategies for coping with their injuries and in many cases forge lasting friendships.

We’ve seen many examples through a variety of sports from softball to skiing and this weekend it’s sailing that will provide some therapy for a group right here in our area.

For the second straight year the Toms River Yacht Club will be hosting the Team Semper Fi Sailing Camp as 20 recovering service members participate in a terrific program in which they learn to sail and race in our local waters.  They will receive coaching instruction from expert members of the yacht club and Ensign 63 of the Barnegat Bay, who will be providing the sailboats for the weekend event at no cost.

The Ensign is the largest class of full keel boats in the country. It is 22 ½ feet long, weighs about 3,000 pounds and is usually raced with a crew of four.

Service members will be learning the basics of sailing, how to navigate a race course and on Sunday take part in a friendly series of races.  In addition the Toms River and Pine Beach Yacht Clubs will host them for dinner each night as a way to honor the service and sacrifices they have made on behalf of all of us.

The Semper Fi Fund is one of the highest rated veterans charities as they provide urgently needed resources and lifetime support for wounded, critically ill and injured service members and their families.  Most impressively 94 cents of every dollar goes directly to those they serve as they operate with only 6% overhead.

The 20 new sailors coming to Toms River this weekend are part of Team Semper Fi which is made up of servicemen and women who have had to overcome great challenges and used their fighting and athletic spirit on the road to recovery.  They have also become role models for other service members who face the same bumpy roads on their way back.

Kudos to all involved, especially the Toms River Yacht Club and Ensign Fleet 63 of the Barnegat Bay for welcoming these heroes who after this weekend will be sailors, hopefully for life.