Dive4Vets Foundation

About the Dive4Vets Foundation

The Dive4Vets Foundation was founded by veterans to help their combat-wounded brothers and sisters. When these dive professionals discovered all that diving can do for fellow veterans, what had been a pastime became a mission. What exactly can diving do for our wounded heroes?

  • Being weightless underwater can bring relief from injury-related pain.
  • Water density resists movement. This can help improve muscle strength with less pain that is inherent in most land-based rehabilitative sports.
  • Diving increases endurance and balance, heightens mobility and improves blood flow.

In 2011, the following organizations conducted a six-week study on how diving might benefit combat-wounded veterans. These organizations included:

  • Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI)
  • The Cory Unser First Step Foundation
  • The John Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • The International Center for Spinal Cord Injury

The trial took place in the Cayman Islands with the help of ten paralyzed soldiers. The results included:

  • A 15 percent drop in muscle spasticity
  • A 10 percent increase in light-touch sensitivity
  • A 5 percent increase in sensitivity to pinpricks

Additionally, specialists in spinal cord injuries think that diving may temporarily restore some physical function to paralyzed veterans due to the body’s increased serotonin output under pressure.

Increased serotonin levels can also result in emotional benefits such as alleviating symptoms of PTSD. Diving also helps ease the mental trauma of finding oneself physically handicapped. The realization that losing a limb doesn’t necessarily preclude pursuing adventure sports can be key in restoring self-confidence and positivity.

As a confidence booster, diving is a catalyst. It’s tough for someone physically active to come home missing a limb and not be able to do the things they once enjoyed. Discovering that they can dive just as well as anyone else helps alleviate these feelings.

Underwater, decreased pain and increased quietude helps veterans focus on recovery and regain a sense of control over their future. More importantly, diving is a natural antidote to the sense of isolation that often afflicts wounded soldiers.

Many vets suffering from life-altering injuries attest to the difficulty of reintegrating with family and society when they return home. However, the inclusiveness of the dive community and the close bond among dive buddies can help them overcome feelings of social detachment.

What we do for our wounded vets

The Dive4Vets Foundation:

  • Teaches combat-wounded vets to dive in the warm, clear waters of South Florida.
  • Organizes dive trips for vets to destinations such as Bimini, Grand Bahama and other tropical destinations.

Participants in these programs often require modified equipment. These range from fins adapted for prosthetic limbs to cylinders fitted with motorized propellers to help their wearers move through the water.

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