Glenn Filtness, surf instructor Dave Davidson, and Ken Campbell hit the beach ahead of Veterans' Health Week.
Glenn Filtness, surf instructor Dave Davidson, and Ken Campbell hit the beach ahead of Veterans' Health Week. Melissa Belanic

Surf's up for veteran health

AUSTRALIAN Defence Force veterans will swap uniforms for a pair of board shorts when they hit the surf at Rainbow Bay for Veterans' Health Week.

In partnership with the Department of Veterans' Affairs and Coolangatta Learn to Surf, the third annual Vets Go Surfing learn-to-surf program gets vets on a board and out into Rainbow Bay swell to learn how to surf.

The free group lessons, with all equipment provided, offers vets and their families a fun and inclusive environment which promotes mental and physical health.

Glenn Filtness, an organiser with Association of Veteran Surfers (AVS), said he found a belonging in the surf after initially struggling when he discharged.

"I moved up here and didn't know many people,'' he said.

"The hardest thing I struggled with was missing my mates and not having people to talk to.

"I met up with the AVS crew and came down to surf and now some of my best mates are here."

Filtness said surfing was a perfect way for vets to make friends while getting active.

"It's being promoted more now and they're researching ocean therapy and how it helps vets to clear their mind," he said.

"Getting in the water and forgetting everything and surfing is pretty good physically and mentally."

Tweed Heads and Coolangatta RSL Sub-Branch will host the program which runs from today until Saturday, October 29 and includes lessons, equipment and lunch.

Sub-Branch member Les Taylor said the program catered to more than 80 ex-service men and women and their families.

"It's rewarding to see the enjoyment and camaraderie they all get out of meeting each other," Taylor said.

To register, call Dave Davidson on 0417 191 629 and mention Veterans Health Week.

To get involved with AVS, visit them on Facebook.


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