The US First Lady has heard how surfing has helped a group of military veterans dealing with mental health issues to smile again.
Dr Jill Biden remarked that “the water is so calming” after she was told that a Cornwall-based club which provides social support and surfing excursions for veterans, first responders and their families had been “life-saving.”
She was speaking to members of the Bude Surf Veterans in Newlyn, Penzance, in the county where world leaders have gathered for the G7 summit.
A member told her that being on the water had got people “surfing” and “smiling”.
The words “Surf, Grow, Heal, Bude Surf Veterans” stood out on the group’s light blue, collared shirts.
During her conversation with surf veterans, Dr Biden said that the weather was “perfect and gorgeous” as it was sunny with a cool breeze.
Working with military families is a cause that is close to her heart. Her military ties include her father Donald Jacobs who was a navy signalman in the Second World War while her stepson Beau served with the Delaware Army National Guard.
He told her to focus on the mental health of the forces before he died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.
Of her meeting with the veterans on Saturday, Dr Biden later told a reporter: “They’re all dealing with PTSD or anxiety, a lot of mental health issues. But once they found surfing, and they reached out to other veterans who are, you know, need healing and help with their mental health.
“It’s just a way to build back their confidence and to help them deal with life and get on the right track again and so I think the water is so healing, and then this whole sense of community with the veterans with one another.
“And so it means a lot to me as I mean, my dad was a veteran and of course Beau.”
She also said she had done “a lot” of work with the Invictus Games, which was founded by the Duke of Sussex in 2014, and the charity Walking With The Wounded which seeks to provide independence for vulnerable veterans through employment.
Dr Biden added: “There’s so many connections and that’s why it was important to hear their stories and and hear how they’ve triumphed.”
She also said that she sees herself as a “partner” in the “healing process” which is under way after the disruption caused by the pandemic and the fractured nature of the US.
She believes that one of the reasons her husband Joe was elected as president was because of his “empathy” and that people identify with him as he knows loss.
“And so I feel that I’m a partner on this journey of healing, bringing together unity,” she said.