Josh Collins

Embracing the torrent: what motivates Special ops vet to paddle 750 miles

June 13, 2018 - 1:50 pm

Josh Collins, an Army veteran who served in elite units such as 75th Ranger Regiment and the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, aka Delta Force, leaves June 14th to compete in Race to Alaska , one the most difficult open water races in North America. Before pushing off on his 750 mile journey Josh shared with what will keep him going during this challenging adventure. 

by Josh Collins, Special to 

Thoughts before I paddle 750 miles to Alaska – Embracing the Torrent

“If I had only known.”  Probably the most human thought there is and insert any great quote about hindsight here.  I believe that 20/20 hindsight is less important to lament the past, than it is to embrace the future.  I recognize that at this moment, I’m here to accomplish something important for others.  I'm blessed to have found my next mission, and it’s bigger than me.  The only way I could have arrived here is down the path of SOF military service and combat, some hard knocks, and a tribe that caught hold of me before I went over the edge. 

On one hand, I can only think about the first paddle stroke of the 350,000 that will propel me to Ketchikan, Alaska on a 19ft Stand-Up Paddleboard.  On the other it’s easy to worry about the first 40 miles across Juan de Fuca Strait to Victoria, BC, and like last year the 50 knot winds that blew 15 boats so far to the West that they never recovered.  But why?  It is what it is.  What else could it be?  I am here to make a statement about life after TBI and PTS and overcoming without adding to the problem by soaking the brain in pharma chemicals.  If my battle on Day 1 is to fight the Torrent while being blown backwards, then a fight it will be.   Isn’t that the point?  To fight!

Josh Collins


We all have obstacles to overcome, hurdles to leap, and our own Torrent to face.  This is a part of life.  But its not all of life.  Life is about reaching that distant shore, and then basking in the sun and warmth of the tribe, family, and friends who coaxed you there.  Life is about the love of your wife and children, and the satisfaction of watching them thrive.  Life is about winning, and that means winning at every little thing, not just the big stuff.  But to do all of this, I have to reach that distant shore, and across and through whatever may come or what waves and storms the winds may bring.  This is not facing the Torrent.  No!  This is EMBRACING the Torrent.

I am paddling for every combat Veteran and their families who must also endure this hardship.  Endure they must.  Endurance is that struggle to continue against a mounting desire to quit.  The strongest fuel for endurance is purpose.  Vision.  The reason to continue the mission.  I would ask that you would join me in my vision of an America where the Veteran suicide rate falls fast from 2 to 3 times the social norm (demographic) at 22/day.  That the best Brain Treatment modalities become readily available for every Veteran who needs them now.  And that mental health treatment no longer begins with a pharma drug regiment, but with modalities that work, and that have worked for so many like myself.  I am here today because someone before me shared this flame.  I am carrying the torch. 

One paddle stroke at a time.  This is Operation Torrent.  Connection is the Cure!

Josh Collins 


Josh Collins is a retired Delta Force Operator and Ranger. He deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia several times. He suffers from numerous Traumatic Brain Injuries for which he was originally prescribed a cocktail of drugs. Not wanting to live life 'medicated' Josh found solace on a paddle board. Two years ago he paddled from Texas to New York City, a distance of 2,600 miles.  He is determined to make a difference in helping other Veterans navigate these perilous waters of life after combat by raising awareness about veteran issues such as TBI and PTS through his paddle board journeys.