A local organization has discovered a unique way to help ease the wounds of combat veterans: scuba diving.
Dani Figueroa was racing toward a career as a professional soccer player. And then, 9/11 happened.
"I just wanted to do something," Figueroa said.
Dani became a United States Marine.
"I just wanted to maybe go in the stead of a Mom, so they wouldn't have to leave their children," Figueroa said.
Deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait changed her, with injuries that are visible and some that are not.)
"Diving helped me with transition just from being in uniform to being out of it," Figueroa said.
Diving, like the military, gave Dani and other veterans a mission.
"It is the freest I have felt… maybe ever," Figueroa said.
Diving with Heroes takes five veterans on each trip. All their expenses are paid to get certified and go on an adventure like one in the Grenadines last spring.
"It goes beyond having a dive buddy. It goes beyond making friends on a dive boat. They really connect on a different level and I think it's really unique," Jill Hottel of Diving with Heroes said,
Underwater, the divers become a team.
"Seeing them light up. The joy that's on their faces when they come out of the water. When they tell their stories about the giant fish that they saw or the shark or the turtle they swam next to," Hottel said.
Above ground, they're wounded warriors. Sixty feet below the surface of the water, they're just warriors.
Next Tuesday evening in Herndon, Diving with Heroes will premiere a documentary entitled ‘Sixty Feet of Freedom.' It follows the journey of three veterans who become certified open water divers and explore the underwater world for the first time. The information about the premiere is below:
Where: AMC Worldgate 9
13025 Worldgate Dr, Herndon, VA 20170
When: Tuesday, February 16, 2016 7:00 PM— 9:00 PM
Get in Touch: Jill Hottel firstname.lastname@example.org