CHICAGO (NewsNation) — Many Special Operations veterans find it difficult to find a purpose after leaving the military. They possess unique skillsets, but trauma can make them feel isolated. But one group of Special Ops veterans are using their military diving skills to restore America’s oceans.
For special operations veterans, diving usually means carrying 200 pounds of gear underwater to destroy a potentially dangerous objective. Intense experiences like this lead 40% of veterans to suffer from depression when returning to civilian life.
That was the case for Rudy Reyes, a retired Recon Marine who struggled with post-traumatic stress and depression since returning home from multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. But while on a recreational dive trip to the Cayman Islands with two friends, his perspective on diving and life changed forever.
Shortly after the trip, the three men laid the groundwork for Force Blue, which retrains former combat divers to carry out marine research and conservation.
Finding a job after their military service affects nearly 200,000 veterans every year. According to the Pew Research Centern, one in four U.S. veterans have a job lined up after leaving the armed forces.