BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Aqua-Nut Divers have buddied up with Bakersfield Scuba to take local veterans into the deep blue as part of the Veterans Empowered Through Scuba (V.E.T.S.) Project.
But before they ever get to swim off the coast of Catalina, they venture into the less stimulating but much safer confines of a local swimming pool.
The Aqua-Nuts certify about six veterans each year in open water diving and six more in advanced diving and this year. will graduate their first rescue class.
And for many of the students it's much more than just breathing under water.
"It's about being in the moment often times when you have PTSD what are you doing? You're thinking about the past, You're thinking about the memories. Or you're just going through your mind. And there's things that trigger you in life," said Martha Schimone, assistant instructor and an Aqua-Nut board member. "But when you are in this fascinating underwater world. You're like a kid in a candy store. You're trying to figure out what's that? Did i just find something?"
Organizers offer the scuba course at no cost to the veterans.
So, they host fundraisers like "try scuba in a pool" on Saturday.
You get the chance to experience breathing underwater.
While veterans get back some of what they lost in the field
"There's this sense of camaraderie with a buddy, because you have a buddy in scuba. That buddy has your back, you're relying on them to make sure you're safe and that each other is safe," said Schimone.
A chance to begin their recovery. Beneath the waves.
The "try scuba" event is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, and will be held at the Bakersfield Racquet Club on Truxtun Avenue. The cost is $25 for about an hour-and-a-half of scuba diving. All equipment is provided.
There are a few spots still available, so send an email email@example.com to register.