Scuba Training & Certification Program
The AWCF Wounded Warrior Emergency Support Fund launched a scuba training and open water certification program in the spring of 2006. AWCF joined with Duggan Diving, a professional scuba diving company, to launch a program specifically tailored to train wounded warriors with amputations and burns. The program was also assisted by the Center for the Intrepid (CFI) which is the rehabilitation facility at San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC). The CFI aided in selecting wounded warriors for the dive program and also provided volunteer physical therapist that monitored the training.
The program proved highly popular with the wounded and was particularly appealing to amputees and burn victims. Diving was not only good physical therapy; the freedom of movement in water was even better mental therapy. AWCF provided the financial support needed to run the program and also provided personal equipment in the form of masks and fins. Duggan Diving provided wet suits and air tanks. The scuba training program was structured to training 4 classes of 12 warriors per year. In some cases, spouses of wounded warriors are also trained as companion divers. As of June 2013, 281 wounded warriors have been “open water” certified. Open water certification takes place at Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, Texas and Balmorhea Springs in Balmorhea, TX.
In 2010, the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) gave AWCF a grant to enhance the scuba program with two “Blue Water” dive trips per year. The location chosen for this program was Panama City, Florida. The program format was designed to take 7 active duty wounded warriors and 7 wounded warriors who had completed the AWCF open water certification and had subsequently departed active duty on each trip to Panama City. The objective was to expose the wounded warriors to diving on ship wrecks and the abundant marine life in the Gulf of Mexico with the hope that warriors would continue to dive as a life time sport. The program proved so successful that AWCF has continued funding for two “Blue Water” dive trips per year post BWF participation.