Two weeks ago, Diving with Heroes hosted a dive day in conjunction with PADI’s Women’s Dive Day. Divers and their families were invited to Millbrook Quarry in Broad Run, Virginia, for a day of diving, hanging out with friends, and wood-fired pizza. We could not have asked for a prettier day. The day evolved how you would expect...tanks and weights were laid out for everyone, and divers were instructed to set-up their gear and ensure they completed a buddy check before entering the water for a dive (or four). Divers found the bottom of the quarry (where it was a cool 41F at 93 feet), were able to practice their skills and try out different gear configurations...one diver even completed her Advanced Open Water certification. For lunch we utilized the on-site pizza oven crafting some delicious pizza creations with an array of toppings. It was a great day!
What made the day a success (in my book, anyway) was not what we accomplished in the water, but who we brought along. Divers will always congregate where the tanks are full of air and the water is wet (fresh pizza does not hurt either). But getting divers to bring along their family members...whether it was a diving wife who was recovering from recent surgery and unable to dive that day, a non-diving wife who ended up sticking around longer than expected to chat, or the family with two kids (and a niece in town from the Netherlands) who jumped in the quarry for a bit of a swim...that’s something special.
A community is a group of people who share a common interest (in our case, prior military service and scuba diving) and experience a sense of belonging among each other. It is a group where people feel comfortable both being themselves and sharing themselves with others. Part of Diving with Heroes’ mission is to build community among the DWH brotherhood. To any one out at the quarry two weeks ago, I think they would agree that our group looked like a community...and it felt like a community. Not only did our hero divers bring their family to meet their fellow divers, but they wanted to introduce their community to their family. It was a great melding of two worlds, allowing our divers to more intimately know each other and for families to see the community that our hero divers are a part of and building with us.
Diving with Heroes has slowly evolved during its first three years in operation. It has been neat to watch our effort mature as we continue to flesh out how we can best serve our injured veterans and service members through scuba diving. Two weeks ago it was encouraging to observe the realization of part of our mission...the development of a community for our hero divers. It may be small, but it is mighty. It gives me hope for continued success in achieving our mission. We can continue to build and develop that sense of community among our hero divers, and incrementally integrate their family and friends. As John Donne once said, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”