ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Nov. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Under the sea is a whole new world waiting to be experienced. During a recent Wounded Warrior Project ® (WWP) outreach event, a group of injured veterans learned how to explore it in a scuba diving class. They also discovered what is possible when exposed to social gatherings that get them out of the house and connected with fellow warriors.
Participants took part in an introductory course for diving with the use of a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba). Gathering in a swimming pool, the warriors were properly fitted with gear, and they explored underwater with teachers from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors ®. "It was great having the opportunity to try scuba diving," said Army veteran Hugo Medina. "I have never done anything like that before." Though he was new to the experience, Hugo said he and his fellow service members encouraged each other, making the class an enjoyable opportunity to connect with others. "Not drowning was the best part - I was really proud," Hugo joked. "But honestly, it was really great to put into practice what I learned in the class, like clearing our masks of water while we were 15 feet deep. And swimming through hula hoops was a lot of fun." Activities like scuba diving and socializing with other veterans can help injured warriors cope with stress and emotional concerns. In a WWP survey of the injured warriors it serves, more than half of survey respondents (51.7 percent) talked with fellow Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn veterans to address their mental health issues, and 29.6 percent expressed physical activity helps. WWP offers a variety of programs and services that assist veterans with mental health, physical health and wellness, career and benefits counseling, and connecting with other warriors and their communities.