March 2014 - Parks & Recreation - 16

Front Page
Water Warriors

Diving programs offered through military recreation venues
provide service members a whole new world to explore
By Danielle Taylor

M

WR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) offices at military installations around the world provide a lot more than just recreation opportunities to their communities; they also help service
members transition between home life and deployment by offering a wide
variety of stress-relieving outlets. Adventure trips are part of the package,
and scuba diving programs have become a major hit at bases worldwide.
In addition, scuba diving is offered as a rehabilitation option for disabled
service members through both military and private-sector venues. The surreal underwater world offers divers a venue for peace and serenity, so it's no
surprise these programs are popular among military men and women who
often otherwise lead hectic, chaotic lives.
This January at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, the Navy welcomed a group
of disabled service members for a
SUDS (Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba) event, offering eight
wounded warriors a rehabilitation

opportunity that provides both physical and mental therapeutic benefits.
The program, free to all participants,
is based at Walter Reed National
Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and serves OperaThe SUDS diving program offers disabled
veterans physical and mental freedom they
may not be able to find on land.

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tion Iraqi Freedom and Operation
Enduring Freedom service members who are under physical therapy and occupational therapy care.
The SUDS foundation works with
Guantanamo Bay's Reef Raiders
Dive Club to coordinate the annual
events and provide gear for divers,
and more than 100 people volunteered to help with this year's event.
" It makes you weightless in the
water, so it really takes away any
obstacles you have on the land, "
says participant Michael Martinez
of his SUDS diving experience.
" All of the pressure and weight on
your joints doesn't matter when you
are in the water. None of that matters down there. "
In Hawaii, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii's Directorate of Family
and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's (FMWR) Outdoor Recreation
Center teamed up with Island Divers Hawaii last year to offer a diving
program for soldiers stationed there.
Although FMWR offered diving opportunities with contracted instructors since 2005, the new partnership
corresponded with the opening of a
new outdoor recreation facility on
Schofield Barracks, which allowed
Island Divers Hawaii to set up shop
on base and hire service members to
help run the dive program.
Throughout the year, the program
offers diving courses ranging from
Open Water Diver to post-instructor
level though its Hawaii Scuba Uni-



March 2014 - Parks & Recreation

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