Through a proposal of the Military Service Support Committee, the RCM Community Trust sponsored a Veterans Sailing Program in conjunction with the Milwaukee Yacht Club. The RCM Community Trust contributed $1,500 to underwrite sailing lessons for six veterans this past summer. The Milwaukee Yacht Club (MYC) further allocated $ 1,000 toward the project.
The program was arranged by Courtney Zeller of the Milwaukee VA Medical Center. Courtney is a recreation therapist with the HUD-VA Supportive Housing Program (known as HUD-VASH), a joint effort between the Department of Housing and Urban Development and VA. The HUD-VASH program helps veterans living with a disability, mental illness, addiction, chronic homelessness or other issues obtain and maintain housing. As a recreation therapist, Courtney helps veterans in this program integrate into the community through recreational activities and opportunities.
The sailing program was held one hour a week for six weeks at the Milwaukee Yacht Club. The classes included a combination of water, dockside, and classroom education to teach veterans basic sailing skills, including: identifying and knowledge of the different parts of the sailboat; securing the sailboat through different types of knots; weather patterns involved in sailing; practice with maneuvering; and steering the sailboat.
The Veterans that participated in this program were informed about volunteer opportunities with the Milwaukee Yacht Club to continue furthering their sailing skills, and several were enthusiastic about learning more. Reggie Brown, a U.S. Army veteran, said “After the first session I was hooked. After being out on the water sailing, I feel so relaxed. I just forget about everything and come back feeling refreshed and renewed.”
Military Service Support Committee Chair George Solveson visited the last sailing lesion of the season and reported that he “was greeted with some very happy vets!” After the success of the first Veterans Sailing Program in summer 2015, the Military Service Support Committee, the Milwaukee Yacht Club and Courtney all hope to bring back the program in 2016.