It’s no secret that many veterans have trouble assimilating back into society. Solace is found participating in several activities such as hunting, fishing, or like the younger generation of veterans, skateboarding. In recent years, there has been a massive increase of people joining the veteran skate population. The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) has spawned a younger and ‘different’ demographic than previous conflicts. Our likes and interests vary as compared to our heroes of World War II, Vietnam, and Mogadishu.
Growing up as a kid, I skated every single day with my friends. It’s all we did. After 8 years of military service and a total of 13 years gone by without riding, picking it back up was daunting. I was far from the athlete I was years ago; my joints cracked, I felt stiff, and my muscles ached a bit more in the morning. My skating skills had certainly eroded, and I was now that old Kook getting in everyone’s way at the skate park.
Until recently, I let the story stop there. About six months ago, I was gifted a skateboard from friend, entrepreneur and veteran, Chuck Robeson. Chuck first started a clothing and apparel line called Applied Violence, based in San Diego. With that brand, he accidentally created his newest venture: Raid Skateboards. Chuck made a one-off deck under the Applied Violence brand and sold over a hundred decks in just minutes. At that moment he realized the potential for something greater.
Prior to his venture into the skate industry, Chuck served as a surface rescue swimmer with the Coast Guard. Over time, Chuck eventually found himself on the Maritime Safety & Security Team (MSST) TacCrew and Advanced Interdiction Team. Their task is to counter drug trafficking across the globe. Leaving in 2009, Chuck then went to work as a government contractor conducting high threat protection in Mexico, South America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. With numerous schools under his belt and multiple deployments, Chuck decided to throw in the towel and come back stateside to pursue his passions and nurture his creative talents.
Founded just last year, Raid Skateboards is more than just a way to generate income. Chuck has taken his passion for skateboarding and has partnered with The Less Violent Project to help support veterans dealing with PTSD. The comradery and physical activity of skateboarding has proven to be a cathartic practice, alleviating some of the emotional wound’s sustained in combat. “We knew that we not only had to be more than a skateboard company but that we are morally obligated to help our brothers and sisters,” said Robeson. “That’s where the mission to promote skateboarding as an alternative medicine to PTSD and other mental health issues came from.”
Chuck is extremely hand’s on with every aspect of the business. The skateboard deck graphics are all entirely designed by Chuck himself. Various military issue weapon systems run the length of the decks in retro 80’s and 90’s colors. Chuck pays homage to the ominous MK18, M249, Carl Gustav or the infamous AK47. Chuck also plans on sourcing veteran artists to help him design future decks. Mutually support each other’s passions in a creative way.
The Therapy of Skate
Over the past year, I have begun skating around my entire town daily as my primary mode of transportation. Living in San Diego I can skate year-round and the level of joy I receive is truly something I crave. When I return home from work, I put on my headphones, grab my board, and ride to the pier and around town. It’s become therapy for my persistent anxiety and an activity that I now crave.
Chuck and I convened a few weeks back at a local skate park where we cruised around, carving the bowls, and navigating the kids at dangerous speeds. My quiver of tricks has since been lost but the feeling of carving a bowl, and attempting tricks that push your threshold, is a thrill and super rewarding. Chuck and I thrive from mutually supporting one another, and I find myself having more fun than in recent past. I’m challenged and engaged the entire time, and It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve been challenged in that kind of way.
The new generation veterans have a huge voice and amazing talents. We’re seeing more and more artists, authors, photographers and poets climbing from the proverbial darkness to showcase their talents. We need to continue our support of these veterans as they break the status quo and challenge societal norms. Raid Skateboards is a breath of fresh air amongst our community and blazing a path for other veterans to follow.