MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The Jacksonville Rotary Club and AA Diving have teamed up to help Marines in the Wounded Warrior Barracks recover by becoming scuba certified here.
John Burd, the past president of the club and a certified diver, heard about the need and presented the idea of taking on this project to the members. One week later, some members of the Jacksonville-South Rotary Club and David Peed of AA Diving were meeting with nine wounded Marines getting ready to start their class.
“It’s a fun experience and a positive experience,” said Lance Cpl. Chris Boreland, with the Wounded Warrior Barracks. “It’s good to just get out of the barracks and do something fun.”
The Rotary Club sponsored the classes with $1,500 coming from their treasury and another $1,500 being donated to them from the District Rotary Club, said John Papurca, the president elect of the club.
“The Rotary Club is always looking for good projects and this is about as worthwhile as it gets,” said Papurca.
David Peed and his staff at AA Diving have had experience teaching disabled people to dive and are excited to be a part of this project. They are coordinating the entire course, which includes course materials, equipment rentals and transportation to complete the certification. AA Diving has given the Rotary Club a reduced price for the lessons and will give the Marines a discount on their personal equipment so they can continue to enjoy SCUBA diving.
The scuba training can also help the Marines with their mental health as well as their physical health by giving them a fun healthy sport to participate in.
“They are laughing and they are using a lot of fine motor skills they might not have used in awhile,” said Lucia Broekhuizen, a diving instructor with AA Diving. “It’s so cool to be able to help these Marines. My husband is deployed and it’s good to do something.”
The SCUBA training can also give them something they enjoy to replace other sporting activities they may not be able to perform because of their injuries.
At the completion of their course they will participate in an open water dive, which will make them certified to dive in any open water.
If the club receives more sponsors and funding they are planning to make this an ongoing project and expand the classes to more Wounded Warriors, said Papurca.
“I am just glad to see them doing something out of the ordinary from their day to day life,” said Papurca.