'When I can be in a tranquil situation ... I forget about all my problems,' said Max Sanchez, a Vietnam veteran who finds nudity an effective way to treat his post-traumatic stress. (WTSP.com)
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See Max Sanchez ó posing behind strategically placed landscaping ó telling why it helps him to go naked outside at his Florida resort. Go to armytimes.com/nudist-veteran
Vietnam War veteran Max Sanchez struggles with controlling issues stemming from post-traumatic stress.
As an Army second lieutenant, he volunteered to go to Vietnam, where he served from 1968 to 1969, first with 1st Infantry Division and later with Military Assistance Command, Vietnam.
Now Sanchez doesnít go out much because if he gets into a confrontation, he fears he might become violent. His relationship with family members has suffered because he can get combative during arguments.
So in addition to seeing a psychologist, he is pursuing an unconventional technique to treat post-traumatic stress: nudity.
Sanchez, who left the Army as a captain, lives in a nudist resort in Florida. While he mostly walks around the resort nude, in his home he wears shorts or a jogging suit when his 8-year-old granddaughter or others stop by.
Sanchez, 70, gained national attention when WTSP, a Tampa, Fla., television station, did a story about him.
He spoke with Military Times about why being nude allows him to enjoy life.
Q. What exactly is it about nudity that allows you to deal with the effects of post-traumatic stress?
A. We live in a nude resort, and they have a back pool. Itís very quiet, and I forget about the world back there. I really enjoy it in the hot weather, and I can go there and forget about the world. Unfortunately, I donít like staying there during what I consider cold weather. To me, anything under 100 [degrees] is cold. Itís not something that completely takes away my problem. When I can be in a tranquil situation ... I forget about all of my problems. I donít find itís a cure-all because I canít be back there all the time, but I do find it helpful.
Q. What do you think when youíre at the pool by yourself?
A. Iím either by myself or with my wife, and I donít think about anything. I am just enjoying the weather, the sky, the water. I forget about anything and everything. Itís almost like ó I donít want to say itís a blank ó I think of nothing at all. Itís a very relaxing atmosphere.
Q. What made you decide to move to this community?
A. I had known about and been to this community over 20 years visiting. I lived in northern New Jersey, and I would come to Florida. I would go to Miami Beach; I would go to Naples, and then I came up here and I would be here during part of my vacations. When my father passed away in 2002, I said, ďIím not going to stay up in the greater New York-New Jersey area.Ē Iíve been to Miami Beach since 1949 as a kid and I liked it, but Miami Beach has changed so much that that option was out.
Q. Did you have any worries about appearing on camera nude?
A. Nah, because I have very few relatives left alive. Each to his own. I understand thereís a lot of people who donít want it. Thatís fine. Thatís their call. But the general object of nudism was to be healthy in a carefree life.
Now, there are some places [where] thatís not the key desire of the people. There are some places where itís just a swingerís club. But itís like everything else: You have good and bad all over. I respect people who say, ďI wouldnít do it,Ē and there are other people who would.
Q. Have you been a nudist all of your life?
A. The first time I went to a nudist place was when I was about 18 or 19 years old. That was out of curiosity, to be honest. Then I decided later on that Iím not a good dresser. I donít like dressing up. I like the idea of being in the sun and enjoying it fully. That was the main reason that attracted me later in life to it.