Many war veterans return to civilian life with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Counseling and prescription medications have helped many restart their lives. However, the Wounded Warrior Project ventured into new territory when the organization offers a water-sports festival that encouraged veterans the chance to experience the healing effects of being on the water while kayaking, sailing or waterskiing. Scuba diving soon became another option. In 2004, the activity was deemed a viable means of rehabilitation. Today, there are many organizations across the United States that offer diving lessons and certification programs to veterans.
Diveheart-Downers Grove, Illinois
The nonprofit organization was designed to provide diving instruction and certification to children, adults or veterans with any type of physical or psychological disability. The organization strives to build confidence and independence in each of the students through water-based challenges that inspire hope while rebuilding self-esteem. Through the program, veterans have the chance to progress from adaptive diver and adaptive dive buddy to advanced adaptive dive buddy and finally adaptive scuba instructor.
Dive Warriors-Los Angeles, California
The nonprofit charity was designed to empower male and female combat veterans who live with physical or psychological disabilities. The program provides veterans with the chance to enjoy a social environment with others who live with the same challenges. Together, the group embarks on diving excursions that provide healing benefits while rebuilding self-confidence.
Force Blue-Montauk, New York
The organization was established by Jim Ritterhoff and Rudy Reyes. Reyes is a former Marine who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He returned home with depression and PTS. But, Reyes experienced first hand the beneficial effects of diving while in the Cayman Islands. He soon planned another trip and invited his military friends to join him. Today, the organization strives to bring combat veterans together to experience the healing effects of diving while helping to promote marine conservation.
Tactical Reintegration Project-Massachusetts
The New England charitable organization equips combat veterans, gold star family members and active-duty soldiers with the ability to rejoin civilian life via the healing effects of scuba diving. Veterans learn diving via online, classroom and underwater training. In addition to offering scuba diving lessons and certification, some chapters become involved in exploring worldwide locations to document uncharted wrecks and create Maritime mapping.