Triple-amputee veteran goes surfing with Ricochet

October 21, 2019 | Surfing
Jose Martinez: became a triple amputee after stepping on a bomb in Afghanistan

As Veteran's Day approaches, certified therapy dog, Surf Dog Ricochet, Army veteran, Jose Martinez, and Marine staff sergeant Persons B. Griffith IV, aka Griff, have joined forces.

They want to share their experiences to heal, change, and save the lives of wounded warriors, veterans with PTSD, kids with special needs, and others who face physical, emotional, or cognitive challenges.

Every 65 minutes, a veteran takes their life by suicide.

Jose became a triple amputee after stepping on a bomb in Afghanistan. The doctors told his unit he wasn't going to make it.

But he woke up from a coma ten days later. His road to recovery wasn't easy. In fact, odds were against him.

He spent two years in the hospital after the explosion and was told he would never walk again.

But this is Jose today, catching a wave with Ricochet to inspire other wounded warriors, as well as anyone else struggling through life.

"After jumping out of my coma, I was told the wheelchair was going to be my new set of legs! I cried for about a year thinking about it!" explained Jose Martinez.

"I was told I wouldn't be able to do a lot of things I used to do and would be limited to things I can do now. I told my self I would never let anyone tell me what's possible and what's impossible."

Jose, A Unique Surfer

Jose is the first triple amputee hip disarticulate that surfs. Not only that, he surfs competitively in adaptive surfing competitions.

He has won several contests, including Stoke For Life's, Life's US Open of Adaptive Surfing. His goal is to make Team USA Adaptive Surfing Team and represent in the 2028 Paralympics.

Ricochet sponsors Jose at competitions to cover expenses such as entry fees, accessible lodging, and transportation.

Jose also walks, fishes, swims, rock climbs, and everything else he takes on. He'sHe's also a motivational speaker who is showing the world the path to true happiness and self-fulfillment.

"But remember, the only way to win the battle on earth is to first defeat the battlefield inside ourselves," adds Martinez.

Griff and Ricochet: a long-lasting friendship | Photo: Surf Dog Ricochet

Surfing Against PTSD

Griff served two tours in Afghanistan. When he returned home, he faced another battle - PTSD.

He had tried many different therapies, but none of them worked until he met Ricochet through the Naval Medical Center San Diego and Pawsitive Teams canine therapy dog program.

"Ricochet is like a mirror for me; it's like she reaches in with both her paws, grabs what's really going on inside of me, pulls it out, and the forces me to deal with it," says Griff.

"The last time I worked with her, she alerted to a mall security guard by leading me away from the area he was in. She took it a step further by guiding me behind a bench, where we were able to 'take cover' like I did when we took fire on the battlefield."

Once they were away from the trigger, Griff was able to sit on the bench and calm his stress through eye contact and petting.

Both of these actions release the hormone oxytocin in the brain, which helps reduce anxiety.

Griff gets on board with Ricochet's canine-assisted surf therapy. His work with her is four-fold:

1. To continue his healing with her;
2. To put an end to the 22 veterans who take their life by suicide every day;
3. To remove the stigmatization of PTSD;
4. To help others find their way through the healing power of dogs;

Griff is also involved in Ricochet's Waves of Empowerment Program, which pairs veterans and kids with special needs for a day of canine-assisted playing, swimming, surfing, and therapy, taking them from the battleground to the playground.

This program enables veterans to find new purpose by engaging in community service while mentoring and inspiring future generations.

Surf Dog Ricochet: changing lives through surfing | Photo: Surf Dog Ricochet

Ricochet Is Balancing Lives

Ricochet is a champion surf dog.

But, more importantly, she became the first-ever canine-assisted surf therapy and adaptive surfing dog in 2009, when she decided to jump on the surfboard of a 14-year-old adaptive surfer.

Since then, she's assisted hundreds and hundreds of kids with special needs, people with disabilities, and wounded warriors.

She balances boards and lives.

Ricochet is also a certified goal-directed therapy dog that has been providing paws-on healing to service members and veterans with PTSD for the last eight years.

She makes immediate soul-to-soul connections, assumes responsibility for their well-being, and alerts/responds to anxiety, pain, emotions, and triggers.

The connection she makes with people defies present-day scientific understanding.

Ricochet's guardian, Judy Fridono, believes all dogs have healing powers. However, we often misinterpret their cues as bad behavior. In doing so, we miss the magic every dog is capable of.

The Surfing Christmas Gift Guide for 2019 | Explore our Christmas gift ideas for surfers