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Veteran helps others find peace through surfing

Posted at 11:32 PM, Sep 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-01 23:32:22-04

(CNN) - A man who served two tours in Iraq has discovered the healing power of surfing.

Sergeant Andy Manzi wants to give that same healing to other vets, so he joined Warrior Surf, a nonprofit that provides surf camps and therapy sessions.

Manzi enlisted in 2003 a few weeks before the United States invaded Iraq. 

"People got blown up. People got shot. But no matter what happened the day before, you gotta wake up the next day and do your job," he said.

Two weeks before Manzi got home, his unit was engaged with the enemy. He said that going home and having to turn that off made him felt like he had no control over himself, and he was afraid.

"I really didn't have any urge to be around any veteran. I pushed myself so far away from it," he said. 

He started surfing and meeting veterans in the water.

“It's an amazing feeling when you can look at another individual out on the water that you don't know tons about, but you know that person's been through some stuff,” Manzi said. “There's something about the ocean, you just feel cleansed.”

He said that it’s different out there in the water, because everyone is focusing on the present and the future.

Warrior Surf pushes away all the bad stuff and nightmares.

The counselors at Warrior Surf are willing to sit with veterans on the beach and let them empty their souls.

“You take that energy of everyone else around you, it's not going to end when you get out of the water,” Manzi said. “I'm full of joy when I know that their heart's a little bit lighter. And they actually can enjoy this beautiful life.”

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