This tale is about our military veterans and a big ol’ pot of pasta.
“You know when you boil spaghetti and you put a lid on it,” Pete Slayden said. “At some point the water starts bubbling over if you’re not careful. And when it does, you really can’t stop it.”
Slayden, a Marine Corps gunnery sergeant based at Camp Pendleton, draws the analogy when discussing his health. After returning from numerous tours of duty in the Middle East, he kept telling himself he was fine.
But Slayden wasn’t right when returning, because he said, “we saw some pretty rough stuff.”
“I had post-traumatic stress disorder and a lot of anxiety,” Slayden, 35, said. “My wife realized it right away, but we spent a lot of time arguing about it because I didn’t see it.
“I had angry outbursts in public. I wasn’t the best husband to my wife or father to my kids. I wasn’t the easiest guy to get along with.”
Then Slayden discovered One More Wave, an organization started by US Navy Seals who loved to surf. Their mission was to get wounded veterans — those suffering physically and mentally — on boards.
“It became our passion,” said Kyle Buckett, the CEO of One More Wave.
One More Wave was a great idea in 2015 but it required more than a solid swell. The real need was financial and that’s where Holes For Heroes stepped up.
Through its annual golf tournament, with the next one on Aug. 2 at Solana Beach’s Lomas Santa Fe Country Club, it steered funds toward One More Wave to keep it afloat.
“They were our first really big supporter,” Buckett said. “We are so grateful for what they did for us.”
With an infusion of dough, One More Wave got busy. It made custom boards for those missing limbs and those battling the dastardly psychological demons of seeing battle.
They did anything and everything to assist vets, even if meant the unthinkable for Buckett.
“I’m still a die-hard Chargers fan,” he said. “And we bring art into our endeavor with what they can put on their boards. One guy wanted the Raiders logo on his board. I even said ‘OK’ to that.”
Commitment to excellence is what One More Wave is all about. Slayden, who surfs the North County coast, from Trestles to Swami’s, is among the organization’s biggest cheerleaders.
He wears One More Wave gear daily, always seeking one more vet to get on a board alongside him.
“Once you get out in the water, we are all just out there talking and trying to catch a wave,” he said. “You realize we all had the same hardships and went through the same things.”
Slayden did a 180 after connecting with One More Wave. His marriage survived and he’ll welcome his sixth child into the family next month.
“One More Wave set my whole recovery into motion,” he said. “I would have never talked like this before One More Wave. I was able to get the help I needed.”
You can lend a hand as the 14th Holes For Heroes Military Appreciation, presented by the San Diego Downtown Breakfast Rotary Foundation, aims to surpass the $140,000 it raised last year for the various charities doing the good work like One More Wave.
The $275 entry fee includes golf, an evening reception and dinner with real heroes. Vets from World War II to our latest conflicts are attending and you can get involved through holesforheroes.com or by calling (858) 381-0853.
“If the people could just see how much good their donations are doing,” Slayden said. “I can’t stress enough how much it has helped me and so many others.”
Above: The mission of One More Wave is to get wounded veterans — those suffering physically and mentally — onto surfboards. Courtesy photo
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports