This article talks about our recent challenge in Key West where Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge Warriors and Gold Star Teen Adventures joined MOTE Marine Laboratories to restore damaged reefs. Warriors and teens collected the staghorn coral that was propagated by MOTE and then places in it’s permanent home…a memorial reef honoring those that have fallen in combat.
In order to participate in the reef restoration project, those combat wounded warriors and Gold Star teens that weren’t already, had to get certified to dive right there in Key West. The adventure produced awareness for our fragile marine ecosystem, as well as awareness of other military groups and their struggles.
Under the direction of the amazing staff at MOTE and various other organizations, our Gold Star families discovered that they are still a vital part of the military and non-military community, and the Combat Wounded Veterans found a new way to contribute to the healing of the ocean, and others while healing themselves.
The final stage of the Key West challenge was to do research on prosthetics after the reef restoration dives were complete. The research helps prosthetists understand the effects certain conditions can have on prosthetic limbs, as well as address the unique challenge that being underwater with prosthetic limbs creates. Buoyancy and maneuverability are difficult to learn when you are being certified, but they become monumental challenges when you are learning to scuba dive AND are missing limbs! The prosthetists work hard during these trips to develop ways to make life with limb loss easier both in the water and on land.