Our mission is to bring awareness to the high rates of mental health issues and suicides among First Responders and those that similarly have experienced repeated traumatic events. It is our goal to do our part to try and reduce them through support, education, and the therapeutic properties of water. We create an environment that uses a combination of a comprehensive resiliency program, individual/group counseling, and SCUBA diving to nurture healing and self-improvement. SCUBA diving has been proven to be ideal in helping people rehabilitate from various physical and mental injuries. Our program is designed to be free to the applicant.
WHO WE ARE
Dive Guardians is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit consisting of both active and retired First Responders who wish to give back to a community that has always been there for them. We are also dive professionals and dive enthusiasts who have experienced, first hand, the healing benefits of SCUBA Diving.
I guess this all started in 2015 when I decided I wanted to give back and help disabled veterans in some way. As I was discussing this with my wife at the time, she handed me a newspaper that contained an ad regarding an organization that helped veterans rehabilitate from service-connected disabilities through SCUBA diving and the therapeutic effects of water. You see, I have been a SCUBA diver for many years and know, first hand, of those therapeutic effects. I reached out to this organization and spent the next three years volunteering for them.
Well, in addition to being a military veteran, I am also a 24-year veteran of Law Enforcement. During my long career as a First Responder, I witnessed the negative effects that experiencing repeated traumatic events over a career has on a First Responder. I have seen many brothers and sisters develop drug and alcohol problems, become both suspects and victims of domestic violence, and suffer from depression. I also know more than one First Responder who have chosen to take their life due to depression and Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSd). Then, in 2016, a fellow First Responder and friend, took his life leaving behind a wife, three children, and a grandchild.
I thought about my friend a lot after it happened and tried to make sense of what he did and wished there was some way I could have maybe intervened and helped him before he chose to take his life. The problem was I had no idea he was going through this as he kept it to himself. Additionally, most organizations out there, including the organization I was with, are designed to help only military veterans that had service-connected disabilities. Don’t get me wrong, I love helping veterans but there are many organizations out there that cater to this specific mission. The reality is, First Responders also develop and experience PTSd, General Anxiety disorder (GAd), and have a wide array of physical disabilities as well but there are very few organizations out there designed to help them. So, in March, 2018, Dive Guardians was born.
WHY WE ARE HERE
There are so many wonderful organizations in existence that help our war heroes and military veterans but few to help our First Responders who have also experienced traumatic events other than military combat.
As a profession, First Responders are already at an increased risk of Post-Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSd), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), General Anxiety disorder (GAd), and an array of physical injuries. This is based on their physically demanding jobs and the increased chances of being exposed to a variety of traumatic events, ranging from officer involved shootings, homicides, having to respond to traffic fatalities, and fighting fires. Often these experiences leave them with both physical injuries and emotional scars. Those who have experienced these traumatic events often have nightmares, flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, and feeling emotionally numb.