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Bodysurfing: A Marine's Medicine

March 03, 2014 2 min read

marine bodysurfing Ben Mercier

Coming home from war can be a difficult transition for soldiers.  39-year-old former Marine Corps Captain Ben Mercier suffered from a bout of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) upon returning from his deployment to Iraq.

"I was just different," Mercier said in an interview with ABC News.  "I didn't know at the time that I had [PTSD] and I was drinking more than I should have."

In 2009, Mercier medically retired due to multiple injuries he sustained in the line of duty as a marine.  "I had injuries in my back, knees, ankles and traumatic brain injury," he told ABC News.  "I wanted to stay in the Marines and I fought my way until they said 'no, you're done.'"

Mercier started having trouble coping with everyday life after his time serving as a marine, and eventually began treatment for PTSD.  "I started to have nightmares.  I didn't trust people.  I was drinking more," he said.  "I've been through about eight years of therapy.  I don't go anymore because it doesn't help me anymore."         

marine bodysurfing Ben MercierWhat does help him is bodysurfing.  The time outside in the ocean helps Mercier handle his PTSD and takes him somewhere where he is comfortable.  The marine spent much of his time growing up either in the pool swimming or in the ocean bodysurfing.  He even swam for the University of Hawai'i in college in the 1990s.  "I love bodysurfing, being in the ocean.  It is just natural and you get an awesome workout," he said.  "It helps me physically with my injuries and mentally with my PTSD.  It is like being free in the water."

Mercier teamed up with another former captain and President of the Hawaii State Bodysurfing Association club, Al Baldera, to start the annual Pyramid Rock Bodysurfing Championship eight years ago.  Proceeds from the event each year go to the U.S. Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment.  "I still want to be in touch with the military and I love doing this contest and I would love to do more in the future,” Mercier said.  

(PC: Greg Rice)

(PC: Ben Mercier via ABC News

Sarah Webb
Sarah Webb

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Not sold on it

I had really high hopes. I have been able to use the Bula on a couple good days. I'm liking my old board better so far. But will try it a couple more times before I return it just to be sure. I have none of the below issues with my Enjoy planer, and thinking of going back.
1. The dam thing is not secure on my hand. No mater how tight I make it. It litterally pops off my hand while on a wave. Its getting really anoying having to constantly pay attention to it.
2. I switch my hand depending on the wave direction. It's tough for me to get a grip on the nose, pull it off then pull tightly on other hand in time. I've missed a couple good ones because of this.
3. The pad that goes accross the top of my hand doesnt cover my whole hand and the seam starts to rub on my hand and is uncomfortable.
4. Not a huge deal but wasnt happy that there were some small cosmetc defects on the board. Eslescially for the price
5. The board bag is kind of ridiculous. Its huge and picture on website isnt to scale, but I probably just wont use it. It was basically free.

I think the only thing I can say positive is I think it has good control... after getting used to the angle I need, and may be a bit more bouyant to pull me out of water for speed. But i need to try it a few times more and figure out how to keep the dam thing on!

I am giving these to my grandsons at the end of the month. I am sure they will love them.

Hand slyde

The leash works amazing i won't go out without my leash on....

Bula hand board

This handboard is exactly what I was looking for. The size and craftsmanship is fantastic! I have gotten some great rides with this board. Super fun.

Ready for the Senior Tour

I received my Slyde Phish just before 2 weeks of gloomy weather. Now that I’ve had a chance to road test it, I can’t wait to get back in the water.

Growing up in Long Island NY, body surfing was my first wave gliding experience. Typically we would drive straight to shore so surfing the diagonal has been a learning curve.

I look forward to many great sets this summer.

Matthew Papish (59)
Laguna Beach