PITTSFIELD – Veterans have said a local skydiving program has bettered their lives, helping them adjust to life back home. The adrenaline-based program has grown to include more people.
Veterans skydived their way into Memorial Day Weekend, thanks to the second season of the Windy Warrior Adrenaline Therapy Program.
“You have that adrenaline, but you have that release. It’s a total release. You don’t think about anything,” said Steve Sobel, who is in the U.S. Navy.
The idea is to give vets, some with PTSD, a safe and positive adrenaline experience.
“You’re constantly on, on, on,” said Dyana White, a U.S. Army veteran. “To be able to have any kind of adrenaline, you have to constantly increase.”
White joined the U.S. Army in 1985, and most recently drove supply trucks in Iraq before coming back to Maine.
“The reconnection is a little bit hard, it takes, you know, the open communication,” said White.
Saturday, she skydived for the first time.
“Yesterday I was terrified, I couldn’t believe I was going to do this,” said White.
But she did it.
“It’s just so amazing…you just have tunnel vision, you just look at the world around you,” said White.
Of the 60 people planned to skydive at the Pittsfield Municipal Airport, not all of them are veterans.
Sam Atwood has been legally blind since birth. On Saturday, he too got suited up to jump.
“Canopy opens and it’s like ‘ah, peace, calm'”, said Atwood. “Adrenaline was definitely part of my own mental health kind of journey, making that better, making that easier.”
Atwood is interning with Windy Warrior, collecting data to see if skydiving can get validated as a therapeutic tool.
The goal of expanding the program is shared by Windy Warrior’s founder, Doc Goodwin.
“Twenty plus veterans take their lives every single day. We haven’t figured out how, so who are we to isolate certain traumas into categories when frankly if somebody’s hurting, we want to help them,” said Goodwin.
Vets were able to skydive for free thanks to sponsors.