When Carlos Poysky merged his passion for kiteboarding with his desire to serve America’s veterans, Wind Sports for Wounded Warriors (WS4WW) took flight.
“When you’re kiteboarding, you get the feeling that you are a needle and thread sewing the sky and the ocean together,” said Poysky, a deportation officer – course developer/instructor for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE’s) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). “It makes you feel like you are connected to something bigger, and any problems seem a little more distant and smaller. This is the feeling I want to share with our wounded warriors.”
When he’s not developing lesson plans or teaching students at the ICE Academy, techniques in arrest, defense and physical conditioning, Poysky is probably enjoying the exhilaration of kiteboarding, sailing or windsurfing with some of his favorite people – America’s warriors who’ve been wounded or injured as a result of battle.
Poysky was inspired to share the thrill of kiteboarding with wounded warriors in 2011 when he accompanied a friend who he had served with in the 1st Ranger Battalion on a hunting expedition; an event sponsored by a non-profit organization dedicated to wounded warriors.
Wind Sports for Wounded Warriors was incorporated in 2012 and by 2014, it was designated a 501 (c) 3 status. The organization has been steadily growing with chapters in St. Simons Island, Georgia; Key West, Florida and Charleston, South Carolina.
The wounded warriors who participate have come from almost every branch of service and are generally either Purple Heart recipients or have been rated by the Department of Veterans Affairs as disabled from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The extent of injuries of the veterans who participate in WS4WW activities run the gamut. Some of the warriors have missing limbs and others have spinal injuries or suffer from the effects from traumatic brain injury.
Mark Roseberry, a Purple Heart recipient and amputee, who has attended three kiteboarding events and a sailing instruction said that he enjoys spending time with Carlos and his supporters, hanging out with other veterans, making new friends and learning a sport that is fun and challenging.
“WS4WW is a labor of love,” said Roseberry. “Carlos puts everything together in whatever free time he has after his full time job, family and coaching kid’s soccer. Every supporter and instructor volunteers his or her time. Kiteboard manufacturers donated gear before WS4WW was a registered non-profit. For everyone involved in the organization, it's not about salaries, tax write offs, photo ops with vets or a logo on their products; they simply want to help injured veterans.”
Poysky said, “Every time a tough wounded warrior grabs hold of the lines of a 15-square-meter kite flying in the air and he feels the power he’s harnessing, I see a smile light up like a child’s. The first time they stand up on a board or get dragged through the water, it’s a moment of renewal.”
Poysky said that not a day goes by in which he’s not thinking about some aspect of WS4WW. He lives by the motto “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”