Local heroes take on the water

By  | 

LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -- Saturday morning, Kinsaul Park in Lynn Haven went from an average busy boat launch to a home for heroes on the water.

Randy Hay, a veteran who served two tours and eight years in the army, said a year ago he was dealing with depression and PTSD. With no where to turn, his wife signed him up for "Heroes On The Water" in Washington.

"I was really scared and timid and I didn't want to go because veterans, we all make an excuses not to go somewhere just because we don't want to meet someone," said Hay, who is now Coordinator of "Heroes On The Water" in Panama City. " And we don't want to get out of our safety bubble."

Although Hay said he was used to the reality of land, it's the water that saved him.

"I fell in love with that," said Hay. "It prevented me from killing myself."

One purchased Kayak later and he started the "Heroes On The Water" chapter in Panama City.

"That's what I need, I needed to feel useful," said Hay. "That's what many vets need, to feel useful and I couldn't cancel."

Dozens were appreciative, bringing their families and friends for a day on the water knowing those paddling next to them were in the same boat.

"You're always looking over your shoulder and wondering what's going on," said Heather Hay, a volunteer. "Because that's the way the military trains you."

But on Saturday those in attendance were able to look forward at the peace and tranquility that lay ahead.

"One of the guys came over and said, 'you know look, we got your six don't worry about it you're all good," said Heather.

Six, in military-speak, means your back.

Group members said the goal for any military member is to come home. Although they may be there physically and not mentally, they'll get there stroke by stroke.

"The purpose of this is to get a little high on life," said Hay. "Without the alcohol or the drugs or anything else, hopefully they find something and that's what I can say I've accomplished, is that I've given somebody hope in knowing there is a way to find peace."