Felipe was selected to participate in our 2019 "Operation Restore Hope" trauma counseling retreat. Prior to applying, he had never been scuba diving. Training was coordinated through a local dive shop and Felipe quickly realized that diving offered him both a new career pathway and an outlet. Before the retreat took place, Felipe had worked his way through his basic dive certifications and also completed a number of specialty certifications, working his way up to a professional level. In August 2019, just two months after the retreat, Felipe travelled to Clearwater, FL with us to participate in the dedication and unveiling of the Circle of Heroes Dive Memorial at which our Director of Business Operations was one of the keynote speakers. He joined nearly 75 other Veterans on the first dive on the site along with two other of our Valkyries that joined us. By the end of 2019, Felipe was enrolled in the PADI Instructor Course having found a new passion and career post-service that accommodates his disability and gives him extreme joy every time he is in the water. In February 2020, Felipe is returning for our Project Restore Hope reunion retreat that is open to past participants. We are looking forward to diving with him again next week and cannot wait to celebrate with him as he begins this incredible new chapter of his life.
Deep Sea Valkyries is dedicated to the mission of preventing Veteran suicide by reducing the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the treatment of other combat-related injuries, while assisting each Veteran in his/her transition from Service Member to Civilian. Our retreats provide alternative forms of therapy to injured Veterans as a method to combat Veteran suicide and enhance lives post-service. Our unique week-long intensive counseling retreats provide Veterans with more than 30 hours of group- and individual counseling sessions, helping them to define trauma, identify and recognize it in their lives, and discover tools to manage its effects. For many, this is more counseling than they will receive in 6 months of traditional forms of treatment.
We couple these sessions with activities that transcend a Veteran’s injuries: swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving all have known positive effects for the body, such as a reduction in overall stress, improved blood circulation, and increasing strength and endurance. In addition to the mind and body, we know first-hand the powerful healing effects of a healthy soul. Daily devotions are led by a military chaplain and focus on the moral injury of war. Through the study of historical military and religious figures, we parallel their struggles within the lives of our Veterans to seek out and formulate new paths to recovery.