When six veterans who lost limbs in Iraq earned their open-water
certifications late last year, diving opened more than a new world
for them. It also opened a frontier for organizations that help
soldiers overcome severe injuries.
“I envision having scuba programs all over the country and then
sending people to warm sites for their tests,” said Al Giordano of
the Wounded Warrior Project. The organizations partnered with
Disabled Sports USA and the Handicapped Scuba Association to
help veterans through scuba training.
The program got started when DEMA offered swimming lessons
at the annual Adaptive Water Sports Weekend on Long Island.
Talk quickly turned to trying scuba, and those who did were
hooked, leading to further training culminating in their tests at
Captain Don’s Resort on Bonaire.
Field medical advances are saving more casualties who would
have died in earlier wars. That means thousands of soldiers are
coming home with severe injuries that they’ll have to live with
for the next 50 or 60 years. The weightless sensation of scuba is
a powerful relief for the disabled, many of whom can fly through
the water as readily as their healthy peers.
The organizations are actively seeking to help the disabled.
Veterans should contact the Wounded Warrior Project at www.
woundedwarriorproject.org. Those with disabilities unrelated to
military service should contact the Handicapped Scuba
Association at www.hsascuba.com or Disabled Sports USA at
© Bob Sterner
“Touch a man who can’t walk upright
And that lame man, he’s gonna fly.”
– Neil Diamond (Holly Holy)
By BOB STERNER
For Scuba Diving Magazine
Top: Adam Kisielewski
takes the plunge. Below:
Adam (from left) poses
with Dean Schwartz,
Cristian Valle, Aaron
Bugg, Tim Boots and
Justin Leon in Bonaire.
Warriors compare wounds with Bonaire's
legendary Captain Don.