Zack Macdonald –
A group of wounded veterans went diving offshore as part therapy, part adventure, Saturday morning.
“They’re a really inspirational group,” said David E. Demarest, who went on Saturday’s dive.
“Many of them are missing limbs, but I didn’t hear one of them complain, and they’re more than capable scuba divers.”
Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba (SUDS), based out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., is a nonprofit organization and a chapter of Disabled Sports USA.
It is designed to help improve the lives of injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. SUDS is separate from the Wounded Warrior Project as it deals specifically with teaching wounded veterans to scuba dive, and takes them on dive trips.
“We use scuba to facilitate their rehabilitation,” said John Thompson, president of SUDS. “Scuba is actually prescribed for their therapy.”
SUDS runs trips from Hawaii to Puerto Rico to Guantanamo Bay, and each year in September they stop through Panama City Beach.
The Atlanta Aquanauts host the annual Dive Fest Benefiting SUDS.
The program is free to veterans and donations pay for airfare, hotel and food.
A lot of Aquanauts dive members come and help raise money through a silent auction and other benefits, according to Thompson.