Tyler was the first in his family to enlist into the military. He wanted to become a pilot, so he joined the US Air-force. Tyler’s time in the Air-force was cut short when he was dropped from a helicopter during a training exercise. Now, paralyzed from the waist down, Tyler faces the challenges of living his life from a wheelchair.
Natalie was injured in Iraq and now suffers from seizures, cognitive disorders, balance issues and severe PTSD. Her symptoms were sometimes just too much for her to bear, so she tried to take her own life – six times.
Tyler and Natalie have found a path to recovery at a small lake community near Atlanta, Georgia. They were part of a program supported by the Semper Fi and Americas Fund – Team Semper Fi. The Team partners with Wake for Warriors to teach Service Members techniques in wake surfing.
Wake surfing may sound like a bunch of fun-in the-sun for most of us, but for Natalie and Tyler this sport has changed their lives. Tyler is now a captain of his own boat and teaches people wake surfing every chance he can get. Natalie has found peace in the wake and is planning to buy a piece of lake- front property to enjoy the next chapter of her life.
The community here welcomes these service members with real southern flare. Daily barbecues, bonfires, and music by the lake isn’t just enjoyable, it helps facilitate the camaraderie that’s the most healing part of these trips.
It is easy to see how these programs and others like it help our veterans physical and emotional well- being. Watching Natalie and Tyler (and all the other Service Members) hang-ten behind a wake surf boat is one of the most impactful things to witness.
Tyler says, “You know, you can live your life from a chair and be happy”, something that most of us would find hard to believe, but as you watch this video you can feel that it’s true.
This short film was created in partnership by Tailor Made Media and the Semper Fi and America’s Fund.
Directed and Edited by Chris Cotter and filmed by Chris Cotter and Sean Grasso. Special thanks to Wake for Warriors for co-hosting this event with Team Semper Fi.