Panama City Beach - A group of 16 Wounded Warriors is enjoying the chance to forget some of their daily challenges by spending the day on the water or should we say "in" the water. The warriors took a scuba diving trip to several of the area's most popular wreck sites. They say the trip helps heal some of their physical and emotional wounds.
For many of the wounded warriors, this was their first salt water dive and you quickly learn that the word "no" is not in their vocabularies.
"Personally my mind set is I can do anything or try to do anything at least, or I’ll set a goal and try to figure out how to do it," said Joshua Dickson.
Marine Jonathan Blank was wounded last October in Afghanistan when an IED exploded during his surveillance mission.
"I lost both my legs and I sustained injuries to my left arm and my left elbow was shattered and I lost muscle there and I had a lot of internal bleeding. I had to get 75 units of blood put back in me and internal injuries from shrapnel," said Jonathan Blank.
Before his injuries, blank had planned to get certified to dive when he returned home. Losing his legs didn't keep him from realizing that goal. Instead of flippers he uses webbed gloves to propel himself through the water.
"It’s an amazing feeling having no legs and under water you have more mobility you get to do things and go where ever you want and i have no limitations down there," said Blank.
The eight Wounded Warriors on this boat say that diving has become less recreational and more therapeutic. It helps them to forget about the complications of everyday life. It’s also gratifying for the instructors.
"To be able to take these guys and give them a since of physical freedom, physical confidence is more rewarding than anything I’ve ever done in the dive industry," said Andy Felth.
This was the 2nd year the Wounded Warriors have dived in Panama City. Donors paid Panama City Dive Center to take out the group.