MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A special program at Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach that has helped veterans in our area celebrated its two-year anniversary.
The program is a swim therapy for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Since it began, it has helped more than 150 veterans through the calmness and serenity of the water.
“The calmness you know, you forget everything. I’m not thinking about Vietnam or what happened today. I’m here. I’m experiencing this and that’s what I find the best,” said Vietnam veteran Bob Suttin.
Suttin and his veteran friends Lou Krieger and Brenda Harris said floating in the deep end and hearing the soft echoes of the waters help them. They said these are the moments when PTSD isn’t on their minds.
“It’s a 24-hour a day game. We’ve learned over the years, you just have to be on guard against it. The dreams and nightmares, it’s something that war and combat does to you, it just does, you just never get over it,” Krieger said. “It’s like a condemnation you’re stuck with the rest of your life. An experience you’ll never, never forget.”
Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach is one of the only two aquariums in the country that offer the veteran’s program. Harris said she hopes more aquariums adopt the program.
“This is, from just my experience, this is such a beneficial program. It would be nice to see other aquariums get on board to support our veterans,” Harris said.
Outside the aquarium PTSD therapy swim, the group meets on Thursdays.
It’s a PTSD group for veterans hosted by Krieger. He said all are welcome, and the group is made up of about 15 to 20 veterans each week.
Krieger called it a “no politics, no religion” type of group and they meet only to help each other and relate to one another.
Krieger said the group is looking to help younger veterans who may not realize how much a veterans group can help.
Veterans who want to get involved and check out a meeting can email Krieger at firstname.lastname@example.org.