For the past few months I have been working at the Aspire Center as a peer specialist. During this time with the assistance of your organization and Kym from Ocean Enterprises we have been able to certify 10 Open Water level divers, with 2 more only needing to finish up 2 dives. During this time I have personally witnessed the improvement in morale, the excitement in the combat veteran’s eyes, and passion that I myself have for diving in these veterans that prior did not have the confidence or trust in others or would have difficult times being able to calm down and relax in open spaces.
To see a change first hand in the veteran community at the Aspire Center has been terrific. While the providers have witnessed it, the other veterans within the facility have seen these changes in the certified veterans and request the same opportunity.
Part of the recovery process that is conducted at the Aspire Center is examining your own thoughts and beliefs and changing them to be more conducive to living a life outside of the military, this is accomplished through various treatment protocols. A primary treatment many of our veterans go through is Cognitive Processing Therapy, which examines 5 key parts of our lives, safety, trust, power/control, esteem, and intimacy.
Through the dive program I have seen this treatment put to the test and pass because our veterans are able to not only have trust in their own abilities after participating in the classroom with Kym but also when they get to the pool and open water portions. Also, the veterans find the trust in their gear, their dive partner, and the instructors who are civilians. Having civilian instructors helps break the thoughts many veterans have of “civilians can’t help me”, “they don’t understand me”, or “I can’t trust someone who hasn’t been to combat” and realize that they can learn from anyone and to reduce the judgments many give on a daily basis. The veterans also get to expand their thoughts of safety and control by being in a class setting, this allows the veterans to see how truly resilient they are.
As a dive master and a Marine Corps veteran I have experienced the benefits of diving myself and hope to continue passing this amazing opportunity to future veterans. Thank you for all of your support!