Fight Oar Die: DU Partners with Veterans to Fight PTSD

Photo courtesy Fight Oar Die

The spirit of the University of Denver will be felt on the lonely and dangerous open waters of the Atlantic this fall.

Fight Oar Die,” the first all-veteran team to compete in the dangerous 3,000 mile Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, will set out in a unique partnership with DU’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP).

Skipper Alex Evans, Bryant Knight, Beau Maier, and Christopher Kuntz will set out in their boat “Woobie” (which will be outfitted with a DU decal) from the Canary Islands on December 12th.  The race concludes in Antigua. The guys hope to complete their journey in a month and a half.

Consider this – the team says more people have been in space or have climbed Mount Everest than have successfully rowed the Atlantic. The dangers are plentiful – storms, 40-60 foot waves, even the fish can present a risk.

“Several years back, a marlin hit on a boat in this race and punctured the hull. After feeling the contact, the crew checked the deck storage and found a piece of the marlin’s nose measuring roughly 6-8 inches in length,” Evans says. Had that marlin landed somewhere else, things could have turned tragic.

Some may call them bold, or crazy, but one word that applies here is…Pioneers. Enter Dr. Jacob Hyde of the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology, himself an Iraq veteran.

DU is home to the only non-governmental U.S. clinical psychology graduate program where future psychologists can specialize in vet issues.  Via video-link, Hyde will study how the FOD team holds up under extreme mental duress.

“When I talk to them, I’ll also be asking them questions about their functioning and will give them some verbal tests for their cognitive status,” he says.

The hope is for the scientific community to better understand PTSD. The Department of Veterans Affairs reports 20 vets a day took their own lives in 2014.

Interested in being part of this incredible Pioneer team? The cost of data transmission from the open-sea, for equipment, and for travel will quickly add up. If you are interested in making a donation to help Dr. Hyde fund his research, the link is here. Select “Sturm Veterans Center Fund” for your gift.

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