Grand Cayman 2014
Led by executive director Jill Hottel, a team of ten, including five hero divers (veterans who were either wounded or injured in service to our country) and four other scuba-certified volunteers, traveled to Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands in August 2014 for a week of diving on the inaugural trip of Diving with Heroes.
The five hero divers suffered from a variety of disabilities ranging from combat injuries, PTSD and stage 4 lung and adenoma carcinoma cancer.
For many of the disabled veteran divers, this trip was their first dive in salt water. One of the divers, Staff Sergeant Michael Perry, said he was stunned by the visibility. In his training dives at a rock quarry visibility was just a few feet, while in Cayman divers could easily see the sea floor, sometimes more than 100 feet below.
“Diving with Heroes works with the disabled veterans of our armed forces who have been injured serving our nation,” said Jill Hottel. “These heroes have been certified to dive through either Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) or the Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA) as a means of physical, emotional and/or social rehabilitation.”
Diving with Heroes was established to ensure that the hero divers’ rehabilitation and recreation does not end with their certification but is instead carried over into their everyday lives, Hottel added.
While in Grand Cayman, the group completed 12 dives, including five “wall” dives where divers reached or exceeded the 100’ depth mark, and a dive on the sunken ship U.S.S. Kittiwake.
DWH Beneficiaries: Tom Altersitz, Alan Echevarria, Patrick Lawhorn, Michael Perry and Jade Sharrocks.