"We are definitely going to miss you guys. Thanks to y'all we are 2 different Veterans. Our lives changed the moment we hit the water. Our marriage grew. We are now so much stronger. Something about being the quiet and the calm. That pressure on my body relieves my TBI. The pain in my body has lessened. I watched my once unsure husband become a confident diver. That first time he cleared his mask and almost surfaced can now dive without any fear. He now lives to dive again. The friends we met along this journey turned my husband from a quiet withdrawn CW2 into a social butterfly. He now talks to everyone. So many changes in such a little time. We are approaching our 100 dives. We love this so much we moved to Florida to be closer to dive opportunities. Thank you Jeff and Patriots for Disabled Divers for changing our lives one dive at a time. You will always be in our hearts. When we come home to visit our kids in Virginia we promise to stop by. Our mission is still to become certified so we can give back and help other warriors to know how scuba can change their lives like it did ours."
Tanya and Tony,

What diving has done for me…hmmmmm….alot, but I’m assuming you want specifics…lol

  1. It has gotten me outta this lousy chair!
  2. It has enabled me to participate in something that non-cripples also do.
  3. It’s also a great break in the day when I am able to forget that I am forever confined to a chair.
  4. PADI’s diving structure is very satisfying to a military pilot in terms of working toward continual goals and increased responsibilities/privileges.
  5. The physical advantages are incalculable for a paraplegic.

This is Rosie(Rocio Villanueva) I just got certified with Kym (Affiliate - Ocean Enterprises). I wanted to thank you Jeff and  Patriots For Disabled Divers.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much!  It is greatly appreciated!

Diving took the attention off my TBI headaches. Despite that getting cleared by my doctors was the hardest thing to do. My brain feels better when I am in the water. I don't know how to explain that lol. I feel super excited, yesterday I got to explore La Jolla canyon and it was incredible.

I am a trained veterinarian who at one-time thought I was lucky in life because I had a career I really enjoyed, and I was always very active physically: running, mountain biking, swimming, doing all types of  gym activities (spinning, kick boxing). That was my prior life. Then, in 2002, I was T-boned by a minivan that ran a red light. I was in a coma for 2 weeks and suffered a TBI and left-sided hemiparesis. Currently my left leg is weak, but I can walk. My left arm is useless; I have normal sensation, just no motor control.

I say prior life, since after the car accident I was given a second life, but not one I chose, not the one I had worked hard for, and not one I even liked. The rest of this is from my perspective, since I count myself amongst the luckier of disabled people. I believe that most disabled people experience these negative feelings to some degree and perhaps feel even worse than I do, since I can still work, walk and have a life to live to a limited extent (or a life worth living?). For years I faced frustration and still do for having everything in my life changed for the worse. The ability to learn to scuba dive came at a time in my life when I really needed it the most. It allowed me to be actively involved in a sport I love while at the same time exploring, and enjoying a world that covers a large percentage of this planet. Scuba diving allows me to gain self-confidence, dignity, new skills, and importantly, to be treated like a “normal” human being in though it’s in a defined circumstance.
Despite most people’s intentions to treat a disabled person like everyone else, it often does not happen that way, and a disabled person is always singled out or made to feel different from everyone else. During diving, in a gravity-free environment, they can be who they want to be, like everyone else diving, part a normal group of friends diving and having fun. Another important thing it gave me was an activity that allowed for a quiet time to think through things in my life. This was something I had when I could run. Running gave me time to go through cases in my head, patients I examined that day, re-evaluate their problems making sure I did not miss anything, add or change therapies if I saw they were needed and to call the owners after my run if that was the case. I no longer do that since I no longer practice, but scuba diving gives me those moments to enjoy my environment and to mentally contemplate life. Scuba diving has provided me with a new goal in life to get stronger physically, improve my skills, visit more (sometimes exotic) places and just be a part of life again. It has provided me with a new perspective on life. My outlook on what remaining life I have has changed for the better.
So why scuba diving? I think a disabled person with help, persistence and training can get these benefits and more from diving, a sport where a limited number of “normal “people are trained or willing to do. Any disabled person who wants to try this should be given the opportunity if possible to change their lives and maybe even save their lives.