Next week, artists will start letting folks know about this year’s For The Sender Holiday Show at the historic La Paloma Theater. We're already a little over halfway to a sellout, so I anticipate tickets will be gone before Thanksgiving. Details are right here, including a partial list of the performers. More will be announced soon.

The show benefits Team RWB’s surf camps for veterans, where I'm honored to volunteer as a surf coach. Last year, an Air Force veteran on my team had suffered hearing damage from his tours spent launching fighter jets off aircraft carriers, but we didn’t talk about whatever else he might have been carrying.

He just wanted to surf.

I’ve told stories in these digital pages about how those moments in the water, edged with laughter and joy, seem to be what veterans at the surf camps need the most.

He was tougher to read, though, and I saw myself in him. Introverted, focused, more likely to wade into deeper water than splash around on the surface.

So I wasn’t sure if his moments in the water were going to be about laughter and joy. He triumphantly rose to his feet on one of his last waves with little ostensible reaction, and by the time we said goodbye, I could tell that the lighter side of life didn’t come as naturally to him.

I get it.

I was packing up my towel and wetsuit after this summer’s camp when a strong hand gripped my shoulder. I turned around to see the Air Force veteran from last year… somehow I’d missed him in the water this time. He said he was sorry it had taken a year, but he’d been waiting for the right moment to tell me something.

For the right moment to tell me that he wasn’t sure if he would survive last summer.

To tell me he didn’t have much to live for back then, that he was drowning in self-doubt and confusion and emptiness.

That the few hours of surfing last year changed him.

That he found a part of himself he’d lost, waiting in the water with people who cared about him.

That he’d enrolled in a local college, taken on a massive course load, and was set to graduate in two years.

That he had a girlfriend.

That they broke up.

That he found another girlfriend.

That none of this would’ve happened, if we hadn’t gone surfing last summer.

I’ve told stories in these digital pages about how those moments in the water, edged with laughter and joy, seem to be what veterans at the surf camps need the most.

Of course, this is because those moments are what I need the most.