FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) – A group of veterans went diving into the waters of South Florida to enjoy a much needed day of relaxation.
After their time of service, some of these soldiers were changed forever, and Thursday’s trip served to help them heal.
“I’m wounded in my back, my knee. I had over 22 surgeries,” said Sergeant Bret Turpin.
The trip, part of Operation Outdoor Freedom, takes the group of vets lobster diving every summer.
“That was a good dive. Saw this giant turtle, man. Huge!” said a participant.
Some of the participating veterans said one of their toughest missions was dealing with isolation after coming back home from combat.
“When you’re in the service, you have these brothers,” said Medic Daniel Knapp. “You kind of come out to the civilian world — it’s a little isolating, so I think things like this kind of help.”
“All you have to do is focus on what the ocean gives you, and sometimes it gives a whole bunch,” added another participant.
Sergeant Ken Patterson, who lost both legs while serving overseas, attended the trip for the first time.
“While we were delivering water, our helicopter convoy came under attack from RPGs,” said Patterson.
Although diving is a challenge for Patterson, the sergeant was able to dive with some help.
“You get the same sense or feel as the other guys. You just can’t move as fast,” said Patterson.
The vets who attended the dive gained the company of their fellow brothers, but they’re mainly concerned for those vets at home who do not know that there is help for them.
“You can talk yourself into the deepest, darkest places,” said Sergeant Angel Marin. “This is the opposite of a deep, dark place.”
While they enjoyed themselves in the sun and water, they are aware many others are still struggling.
“If you’re at home on the couch, which was my dark place — my couch — which is a lot of veterans’ dark place, get up off the couch. I know it’s hard to do,” said Turpin, “but once you get off the couch and get out, you’ll never wanna go back to that couch again.”
The soldiers of Operation Outdoor Freedom have become a tight brotherhood and hope that they can spread the word to get other vets in the water next year.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.