Scuba Diving for Veterans Who Have PTSD and TBI

I am a 100% Service Disabled Veteran with PTSD and a TBI.  I am a PADI DIvemaster and I scuba dive on a regular basis.  I overheard a complete idiot telling a person that Veterans with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries can’t scuba dive.  This moron went on to explain that Veterans with PTSD and TBI’s who do scuba dive are faking disabilities because of the obvious evidence that scuba diving is a stressful experience and exacerbates symptoms related to PTSD.

veteran ptsd tbi scuba divingI really hate it when people make strong statements with no actual or accurate knowledge on a topic.  It is no wonder why scores of Veterans, including the severely disabled, flock to scuba diving because of its calming and therapeutic effects on the body.  The Veteran’s Administration (VA) recognizes the value of scuba diving for disabled Veterans and has in-house programs in place to provide certification programs free-of-charge throughout the country.  There are additional programs that are directly funded by the VA.

It is no wonder that many large Veteran organizations including: The Wounded Warrior Project, Project Rebirth, Veterans of Foreign Wars and others, offer scuba diving certification to their members.  It is no wonder that one of the most popular VA Vocational Rehabilitation educational program is Scuba Diving Instruction.  The Veteran community has long known the positive effects of scuba diving for disabled Veterans.  I can’t count the amount of disabled veterans that I’ve met while diving.  The instructor who taught me Rescue Diving and Divemaster (DM) is a 100% service disabled Veteran and his primary Divemaster is 90%.  I finished my DM program with a retired Army Colonel who is also 100%.  It should be noted that all persons receiving or giving training were service disabled Veterans.

Like most Veterans, it just pisses me off when I hear people talking out their ass about what disabled Vets can and can’t do.  This moron solidified his ignorance when I overheard him say “you can’t prove PTSD and TBI- the VA just rubber stamps those claims.”  In reality, the VA denies upwards of 80% of all claims for disability.

Why is Scuba Diving so beneficial to Disabled Veterans?

I feel happy and calm when I am in the water scuba diving.  It feels completely different from swimming or sitting on a beach.  I notice significant decreases in anxiety and depression that exists in much of my daily life.  It is common for Veterans to discuss challenges with each other and I have heard many others who have the feelings.  We often feel a strong relief of symptoms for days to come after diving.  Like many Vets, I have sleep problems that have persisted for decades.  I can safely say that my sleep is much improved after diving.  A good night’s sleep has many benefits that carry forward into my life.

Washington Post article: The researchers speculate that the physical improvements may have something to do with an interaction between nitrogen, which is pumped into a diver’s bloodstream at a high rate, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter well-known for its feel-good effects but less known for its role in the spinal cord. The theory, Becker says, goes like this: “The increased levels of nitrogen will translate in your nervous system into increased levels of serotonin, and these increased levels of serotonin act on the cells in the spinal cord and the brain, which seems to improve their function.”

An expert of the John’s Hopkins Medicine research (9/2011) “But the most striking psychological impact was seen in PTSD symptoms, which decreased, on average, by 80 percent in those veterans who went diving. Escaping to a tranquil beach setting, Kaplin says, wouldn’t be enough to account for such an apparent escape from PTSD symptoms.”

“On 16 DEC 2009 a briefing was held by former Secretary of the Army Martin Hoffman in Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in the treatment of brain injuries. During the presentation, Sec. Hoffman highlighted the need for additional funding and research into the treatment of the numerous traumatic brain injuries (TBI) from Iraq and Afghanistan by Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT 1.5). The 1.5 in the acronym represents the treatment atmospheric pressure of 1.5 atmospheres. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a well-tested option in treating at least 13 other medical conditions.

The Army Warrior Transition Unit began scuba therapy for soldiers transitioning out of the Army who had PTSD and TBI injuries.

I hope that all Veterans continue to explore the many benefits of scuba diving for fun and therapy.  I would love to hear from other Veterans who have had positive experiences with scuba diving.  Please comment below!

3 thoughts on “Scuba Diving for Veterans Who Have PTSD and TBI

  1. Thank you for sharing. My husband has PTSD and TBI from being injured in Iraq. He just got into voc rehab through the VA and started his journey in scuba diving. He loves it so far and Ive seen him smile so much and found something that not only helps him but also most of all he enjoys it. After he is done getting certified I will also be doing the same, I am also a Vet who suffers PTSD. Again thank you for sharing, thank you for serving and just know you give other vets hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for looking at our blog and this story! Scuba made such an impact on me I had to get involved more with Vets. Where do y’all live? I am also in Voc Rehab and the ocean made such an influence on me, our family moved aboard to live on the ocean. We love it in Florida. We are in Marco Island now. I encourage you and your husband to follow through on the scuba and enjoy because it just gets better. I looked at it as therapy and my sleep is so much better for several days after I dive. If you ever make it out to the Florida Keys, look me up or send me a message. I’ll take y’all out diving on our boat.

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