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Wounded Warrior Project at Dutch Springs

Dutch Springs is a quarry in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Every weekend hundreds of scuba divers come to train, practice skills or just have fun underwater. The quarry features platforms where divers could practice skills, and has underwater attractions including boats, planes, vehicles and even a helicopter.

Photo by Olga Torrey |

On the weekend of August 10th, 2012 a very special event took place. More than 40 wounded members of the United States armed services from the East Coast came to Dutch Springs to complete their scuba diving certification. This was part of the Wounded Warriors Project.

The Wounded Warrior Project was established in 2003. The project was set up to honor and empower injured veterans. Service members get the opportunity through activities and events to build back their confidence. Based in Jacksonville Florida the group helps wounded veterans returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq to adjust to life after they have been injured. The message of the group is simple: "You are not alone". The group's logo depicts a soldier carrying another on his back.

Stewart Snyder of the Handicap Scuba Association of New Jersey has been working with veterans for eight years. He called water "the great equalizer" for the vets who live with disabilities. "There's a big demand for this because the vets come back with missing arms and legs". "Scuba diving keeps them active and out of their wheelchairs."

On Saturday morning the warriors received a police escort to Dutch Springs, and a group of motorcyclists lined up at the entrance holding American flags, giving them a heroes' welcome. The vets were required to do four dives and perform skills 25 feet under water in order to get their certification. Many scuba diving instructors from the Handicap Scuba Association participated in the event, while the warrior’s family members were there to witness their accomplishment.

This special weekend at Dutch was more than just scuba diving. The Warriors came with their loved ones including pets for a fun and social weekend. Food was served and everyone had a great time. These events serve as group therapy. By being with people that know what they have been through the vets have a sense of community.

Being neutrally buoyant in the water allows people with disabilities to feel free. You could tell from the events of the weekend these men and women are proud that they served their country. They even had an American Flag saluting ceremony underwater. Diving gives them a sense of freedom and maneuverability that they had before their accidents. Diving reminds them that there is still so much to live for.