The nonprofit organization, Aqua-Nut Divers, is giving America’s heroes an opportunity to heal through scuba diving. Since 2017, Aqua-Nut Divers has offered disabled veterans the opportunity to learn scuba diving and go on diving excursions free of charge. Having served veterans for the past few years, Aqua-Nut Divers has learned of the impact it has made on veterans who shared that the activity is healing, healthy, and helps them keep their minds focused.
According to Bakersfield, Aqua-Nut Divers’ V.E.T.S. Project (Veterans Empowered Through Scuba) is changing the lives of disabled veterans who find peace and enjoyment through the activity which allows them time for ‘mindfulness.’ Martha Millan Schimon, Aqua-Nut Divers board member and secretary, explained that “when you’re diving, you’re in the moment” and being present in that experience helps eliminate negative thoughts. Army veteran Benny Rodriquez, shared that veterans tend to keep to themselves when they return home, but when given opportunities to engage in an adventurous activity, they often gravitate towards that, especially when it includes other veterans. Rodriguez, who has been diving since 2017, highlighted that scuba diving has helped him “break out of his shell” and he now has an appreciation for being part of a team.
According to Bakersfield, the nonprofit recently hosted their annual ‘Try Scuba in a Pool’ event to raise money to continue their work for veterans since the cost of scuba gear and classes run high. A general scuba diving class costs from about $1200 to $1500, but with the kindness of instructors who are donating their time for the veterans, the cost is about $800 which includes scuba diving equipment. The annual public event is held to raise awareness and money for the nonprofit so that they can continue to serve local veterans.
According to Aqua-Nut Divers, the V.E.T.S. Project is their way of giving back to America’s heroes who have sacrificed for our country. They hope that certifying veterans as scuba divers gives them the outlet they need to find peace and healing. Improving the lives of veterans, scuba diving is among many outdoor activities that have been embraced for the therapeutic features they have that help our veterans readjust to civilian life and feel appreciated.