Featured Image Credit: Force Blue
By Kira Krall
Force Blue is an organization that is giving retired military divers a chance to use their skills to conserve our planet. This nonprofit will give thousands of veterans the opportunity to survey, regrow, and replant corals for coral reefs all over the world.
This program is mutually beneficial: Force Blue uses trained divers to complete conservation projects, and the divers themselves are offered a path to healing. Most people assume that post-war soldiers develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the combat environment, but that’s only partially true. PTSD can also develop if the need to work as a team to better something else is not met. Force Blue can fulfill these needs while also changing the member’s perception of the ocean. It will no longer be hostile or dangerous, but instead will be a place of beauty and peace.
Founders Jim Ritterhoff, former Recon Marine Rudy Reyes, and dive shop owner Keith Sahm experienced this first hand. Ritterhoff invited Reyes on a recreational dive trip to Little Cayman. At first, Reyes was anxious and distressed in the water. But by day 4, he was so motivated by his transformation that the three men created Force Blue to share the opportunity with other retired military people.
The first ever Force Blue team, pictured above, will dispatch to Little Cayman Island in April of this year. Force Blue members will be trained in everything from fish identification to marine policy to coral ecology. This coupled with their incredible diving skills will create a team capable of affecting huge positive change for our oceans and for themselves.
Watch a video from Force Blue below: