Our Impact

Operation Surf has had a profound impact on participants. Veterans who surf with us experience healing from emotional wounds and a renewed sense of possibility and self-confidence.

How do we know?

As a results-driven organization, we believe in gauging the effectiveness of our programs through scientific research and studies. 

Read on to see what a difference Operation Surf’s programs make, and why it’s so important to keep them going.

Numerous research studies are underway to evaluate the effects of participating in Operation Surf’s programs. As these studies are completed, we will post them on this page.

Blue Mind is landmark best-selling book by marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols on the remarkable effects of water in all of its shapes and forms on our health and well-being.

“Watching these vets in the water is something else. There’s a sense of achievement that destroys their perceived limitations, lifts their self esteem, brings them together with others like themselves, and rebuilds their psychological strength.”  Wallace J. Nichols, Author of Blue Mind

The Impact of Ocean Therapy on Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Dr. Russell Crawford’s book, “The Impact of Ocean Therapy on Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” suggests that surf therapy offers an alternative form of nature-based therapy that could potentially be effective for treating veterans with PTSD.

His research on the Operation Surf program showed that participants experienced:


A 36% decrease in PTSD symptoms


A 47% decrease in depression


A 68% increase in self-efficacy

These beneficial effects may lead to higher self-esteem, strengthened coping skills, and lower rates of suicide.

“Other groups focus on providing a fun experience surfing, whereas Operation Surf focuses on creating a positive therapeutic experience that continues to positively impact the participant for life.” – Dr. Russell Crawford

Operation Surf x Whoop Research Study 

In partnership with Whoop, Dr. Jon Ossie, University of San Diego, shared results from our feasibility study utilizing new technologies to measure the effectiveness of our ocean surf therapy. This research study suggests there is improvements in physiological biomarkers supporting the self-report survey data indicating ocean surf therapy could improve sleep and health metrics, reduce depression, reduce anxiety, and decrease PTSD symptoms in military veterans.


A 38% decrease in PTSD symptoms


A 59% decrease in depression


A 47% increase in REM minimum Sleep

What is WHOOP?

WHOOP is a fitness coaching system that captures data on the users physical condition using a non-invasive monitoring device worn on the wrist 24/7, called the WHOOP band. WHOOP monitors sleep, recovery, and daily effort around the clock to deliver actionable insights on how to optimize performance.

“I slept 9 hours last night, and it required nothing of me. I didn’t have to take a prescription. I’m just thankful for what Mother Nature does.” —Carla, LTC US Army Participant

Program Testimonials

"Operation Surf was refreshing and fun! Of course, it was really great to learn to surf, but OS is so much more than just surfing. Never having surfed before and not being very comfortable in the ocean, I was forced to get out of my own way and trust the process. Being able to accomplish something I thought I wouldn't be able to do was very rewarding, and it ignited a fire in me that I had let go dim. I feel rejuvenated and self-confident again. I look forward to trying new things, going on more adventures, and enjoying the sport of surfing for many years to come."

SOF Participant


"The fact that I was able to completely disconnect from work and fully submerge myself in the experience without any obligations opened up many doors for relaxation, resetting, refocusing, rebuilding, bonding, and both personal and relational healing. We were both struggling individually and as a couple prior to this trip. The professionalism, relatability, enthusiasm, excitement, openness, and care that every single member of Operation Surf displayed towards us and one another was contagious. They helped us find our individual selves again and helped save our marriage."

SOF Participant


"Operation Surf was hands-down the greatest trip that I have ever been on. We travel the world for our jobs and get to see and do things that most people can only dream of, but that’s often filled with guilt while my wife is left juggling her own work, the kids, and everything else life throws at her. We spend a substantial amount of time away from each other with all of the trips, training, and deployments. Getting to share this experience with my wife by my side and finding a new, exciting activity that we both immediately fell in love with truly made this a trip of a lifetime."

SOF Participant