“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.”
- Jacques Yves Cousteau
Patriots for Disabled Divers (PFDD) is charity for - and inspired by - disabled veterans. We are a group of divers dedicated to bringing the joy and therapeutic benefits of scuba to people with disabilities.
Patriots for Disabled Divers became an official non-profit in 2013, but our roots go back to 2009. Jeff Currer, a retired US Navy Captain, and his wife Merial opened Patriot Scuba in Occoquan, VA and were inspired by the achievements of customers with physical challenges.The Currers wanted to give back to the military community, provide assistance for veterans and share the healing experience of scuba. That’s when Patriots for Disabled Divers was born.
Over the last few years, PfDD expanded our reach across the United States, establishing affiliate dive shops in Georgia, Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Washington state. More than 600 wounded military veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI, amputations and other injuries have benefitted from PfDD’s scuba program. Learn more about the scientifically-proven benefits of scuba diving
How We Make An Impact
Since 2013, we’ve trained more than 600 wounded military veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI, amputations and other injuries. We aim to pay 100% of the training costs and help a spouse, partner, or relative learn to dive as well. In this way, all our divers have built-in dive buddies. But we rely on donations from people like you to make this happen.
What Makes Patriots for Disabled Divers Different?
There are a lot of military charities out there, and we salute all those who serve and those who are committed to supporting our military men and women on the homefront. What makes us different? We give disabled divers access to a physical activity that brings them joy, freedom from pain, and something they can enjoy with friends and family.
Scuba diving provides a unique environment with many therapeutic effects that can’t be replicated on land. For one, the weightlessness of being underwater can relieve physical pain. Also, completing a scuba certification can help a disabled person feel more in control and a sense of achievement. If I can breathe underwater, what else is possible? Our divers also tell us the mental benefits of scuba, the silent world gives them a chance to focus and just breathe.
Last but certainly not least, we surround disabled divers with a support system. PTSD post-traumatic stress disorder, is a major cause of suicide for vets - up to 22 veterans lose that battle every day. They feel very isolated and have trouble communicating what they’re going through, or engaging the community. As US Senator John Walsh of Montana (the first Iraq vet to serve in the Senate) said, “Far too often, we’re leaving our veterans to fight their toughest battles alone.”
Through our program, disabled divers meet people with similar problems and work through them together. We also gets loved ones involved, as divers, gear handlers, or whatever role they want to play. Maybe it’s filming the look on their loved one’s face when the biggest shark on earth swims right by them.