By: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Blees, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest
SILVERDALE, Wash – Wounded warriors in the Northwest participated in a therapeutic Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) diving clinic hosted at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor’s Aquatic Center, Feb. 23.
The clinic was hosted by Heartbeat – Serving Wounded Warriors (HSWW), which was started in 2009, and their SCUBA Warriors program emerged in 2010.
HSWW therapeutic SCUBA program is known as the SCUBA Warriors, and service members with physical or psychological injuries can benefit from the healing brought on by therapeutic diving.
“SCUBA diving improves their (Wounded Warriors) lives psychologically, mentally and physically,” said Janice Buckley, President of HSWW. “It helps with cognitive disorders and reintegration. “
Therapeutic SCUBA diving helps service members improve muscle strength, mobility, cardiovascular strength, blood flow, confidence and emotional well-being. It can be used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, limb loss and spinal cord injuries.
“It’s something to take your mind off of everything else,” said John Edmonston, wounded warrior. “I thought it was pretty cool, and I took to it.”
HSWW offers open water certifications every month for wounded warriors and advanced stress and rescue certifications quarterly.
“A lot of us have a hard time relating to other people, even each other, and this has helped me reconnect with fellow soldiers,” said Guy Smith, wounded transition unit. “When I was feeling lost, SCUBA gave me a direction.”
According to HSWW’s website, therapeutic SCUBA diving is a unique healing activity because water reduces the forces of gravity, which are hard on the body. Water offers a weightless and cushioning environment that gently supports muscles and limbs.
HSWW also has a ‘Back in the Saddle Warriors’ program based on equine assisted therapy consisting of hippotherapy.
For more information on HSWW’s and their programs for Wounded Warriors visit http://www.heartbeat forwarriors.org