SAN ANTONIO — A veteran and his friends embarked on an expedition around Cape Horn, the area known as the sailor’s graveyard, in an adventure aimed at raising awareness of veteran suicide. You can witness their trip in a new documentary which will screen at a San Antonio theater this Wednesday.
KENS 5 has been following the story of U.S. Navy veteran Taylor Grieger and his writer friend, Stephen O’Shea, since 2018. Come early November, they'll set off to finish the last leg of their journey to round Cape Horn.
They planned to depart from Valdivia, a city in central Chile. The friends had already completed the first part of their journey where they sailed Pensacola, Florida and shot across the Gulf of Mexico.
"We've sailed through two hurricanes, the first recorded cyclone to hit Chile and then two more tropical storms. So, what we have sailed through, the waters that we've seen, the waves we've surfed down, the common sailor will not ever see in their entire lifetime," Grieger said at the time.
They returned home safely but recalled how they fought for their lives out on the waters. They faced a number of dangerous storms including the time they tried to escape the Strait of Magellan.
“(A) seven-story wall of water coming straight at you. The sound it makes is a heavy train. When it hits you, it explodes on your boat. You feel it in your bones when it hits you. Then, your whole boat flips,” he recalled.
The purpose of their journey was to create a film called "Hell or High Seas" and raise awareness of veteran suicide. Grieger documented his own struggles and how he discovered his own path to healing. Through donations from loved ones and large organizations, including the Wellmed Charitable Foundation, the pair was able to launch the film to the public.
He shared how World War II and Vietnam veterans have thanked him for creating it.
“To hear them say that they’ve been fighting the fight that I’ve fought for decades alone breaks my heart. It’s hard to hear. But it lights that fire even more.” said Grieger. “There’s beauty in this world and it’s not just death and dark. I hope that civilians watch this film and see what veterans go through and demand change.”
You can watch the film at Santikos Casa Blanca Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., where Grieger will be featured in a post-screening Q&A session. You can also rent or buy the documentary here.
In addition to the film, Grieger’s mission to help veterans and their families continues through the American Odyssesus Sailing Foundation. He cofounded the nonprofit that helps veterans heal at sea.