Jason Kugler, USMC Veteran
"I served as an Infantryman in the United States Army for just over 9yrs with two combat tours to Iraq. I was wounded in my first tour as well as my platoon being in a mass casualty situation a month before being wounded. After getting out it seemed like everything hit me at once, I was struggling to find things that would help distract or ease my mind. I was approached by Karl and Zack, asking if I had ever thought about scuba - I jumped on board. Every dive got better and better. Before this, I struggled with sleeping, finding excitement in day to day things, but the days we were diving, exactly opposite. I slept harder than I had in years, and was excited to tackle the day. I'm forever thankful for this opportunity and introducing me to this." - Jason Kugler
Zack & Angel Alexander, USMC Veteran Family
Scuba diving changed my husband's life by giving him a way to cope with his combat PTSD. His life changed the moment he scuba dived for the very first time. If I am being completely honest with you, I was very happy when he got his scuba diving certification but at the same a little jealous because I also wanted to be part of the recreational diving world. I wanted to be part of his underwater adventures and experience the inner peace and relaxation he would come home and tell me about.
Reality kicked in a little too quickly when I realized that it was a bit expensive to get certified to be part of the diving world. That did not stop my deep fascination with the underwater world, and just the thought of being completely surrounded by water and beautiful sea creatures is a feeling that I could only imagine and picture as indescribable.
A few months after my husband told me that I was chosen and got sponsored by Karl with Undersea Warriors as a scuba buddy for him. The very first sponsored by the organization. W H A T? My heart filled with gratefulness, joy and excitement to start the experience and eventually being able to dive hand in hand with my husband. From the moment I took my first underwater breath and started to descend it completely changed my life, it was as if nothing else mattered. I was completely in the moment FOR ONCE! The negative thoughts, the depression, the anxiety were all gone. It was me with the weightlessness that surrounded me, under the waves were all I could hear were bubbles as the feeling of euphoria and adrenaline rushed in, feeling blessed to be there doing something I immediately grew a deeper love to.
Having the privilege of escaping the busy day to day life, our mental illnesses and stigmas by being surrounded in a nonjudgmental environment where you are most definitely not the alpha predator gives you a different perspective in life, a perspective of caring for our sea life, creating a reconnection with Mother Earth and a whole different reality of the wonderful unexplored creatures under the waves. 2021 has definitely been a happier and healthier year for me and our family & Undersea Warriors made that possible for us and it is because of this that I want to help introduce as many people as possible to be part of the undersea adventures for many years to come.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much Karl! It is greatly appreciated what you are doing for our veterans and their families!
Angel Nicoll Alexander
Arturo Lantigua, Navy Veteran
I’m not as versed as many, I struggle with mental health and trying to find solace or as I would say the friends I never had because most of them got thru their ranks and could not stay in contact.
The opportunity that Karl gave me, has given me the freedom scuba brings to people with mental health problems. It gave me a purpose and I’m contemplating becoming a scuba instructor which soon I’ll start on that path.
Again undersea warriors has given me the opportunity to realize there is more out there.
Derek Haas, Active Duty Navy
My experience with Undersea Warriors was phenomenal. I have always wanted to learn how to SCUBA dive and they helped me get there. Not only did I learn how to dive, but it also greatly helped with my anxiety. Underwater you don't have to worry about life's stressors. Bills, relationship issues, family life, work, deployments ... none of those come to mind when you are diving so you get to experience a peace that is hard to find. An excellent program and crew I would recommend to any active duty/veteran struggling!
Greg Winjum, Army Veteran
Everyday my leg would hurt relentlessly. The first time diving I was hoping for any relief but what I got was so much more. Before I went out I was apprehensive as I had to turn off my implant which helps with my leg pain before I went in. While diving I didn't even notice anything with my legs. After the dive I had so much pain relief that I forgot I even needed to turn my spinal implant back on. In short diving helped so much more then I expected and I am recommending all my friends with similar issues to give it a try.
Mike Lugenbell, Army Veteran former Deputy Sheriff
Words cannot express what scuba diving and Undersea Warriors has done for me. Being underwater I body pain get relief, my mental health improves significantly and last and I am in peace and bless.
I have done adventures with other non-profit, but the issues are you must wait for them to put you on another adventures to help your mental health. With SCUBA diving and what Undersea Warriors has done, I have freedom. I can use the peace and relief scuba bring anything time I NEED IT. I cannot thank Undersea Warriors enough.
I have found a whole new group of support at my local dive shop and I have goal now in Scuba. That is all possible because of Undersea Warriors. THANK YOU.
Brandon Corbett, Air Force Veteran
Thank you undersea warriors for allowing me to get my dive certification with my buddy Eion. It was such an awesome experience and I couldn’t have done it without your help! Becoming dive certified was always a dream for me and you helped make it a reality!
Justin Hanson, Army and Coast Guard Veteran
After leaving the Army in 2019, I was looking for positive ways to combat my PTSD. I had tried a few different types of therapy, but none seemed to really offer me any lasting relief. I had lost a little motivation in my quest as time passed.
I saw Undersea Warriors via Facebook a few times. I read about their mission and what they were doing for veterans. I was curious about attempting scuba, but nervous because I was not a great swimmer. I decided to apply and give it a shot. I was not disappointed.
Karl and his team contacted me almost immediately about helping me out. It is weird, but not many organizations will contact you that quickly. It made me feel like they cared, and I was right about that. I filled out the rest of the paperwork and within a few days, I was set up to begin my course.
Scuba is challenging, especially for somebody who is not a great swimmer. The team of instructors were awesome though. They built up our comfort level and allowed us to overcome our fears in a controlled environment. Passing the skill requirements was therapeutic and helped to boost my mental confidence for the open water certification. I felt like this was the mental boost that I needed after being in a slump for a few years.
After logging 4 dives and becoming a certified diver, I felt really accomplished. I wish that more veterans with PTSD would take advantage of this opportunity. You do not have to be a great swimmer to become a scuba diver. Scuba diving is an amazing sport and offers opportunities for positive experiences for anyone. It is a great way for veterans to connect and to build upon their support networks. If you are a veteran and looking for something more in your life, you should really consider giving this a chance as I did. You will not regret it.
JP Kelly, Army Veteran
Over the last 8 weeks I pushed my limits, faced fears, and found a whole new planet under the waves. A place where you must focus, and always fall back on your training to survive. My journey was the open water dive course taught through Splash Watersports in Pittsburgh.
From the jump everyone at Underseas Warriors made me feel like part of the family through the administrative/enrollment process. Karl was a hell of a guide and always worked with what my schedule demanded. No matter what he was always supportive and encouraging.
They directly connected me with Splash Watersports (my instructor crew) and the Underseas Warriors Pittsburgh chapter President Jason Wylie. Without him I certainly would not have enjoyed this process as much as I have and would have been lesser for it.
That’s another great thing about this program, you can go as fast or as slow as you want(with up to a year to finish after acceptance into the certification journey).
Then came time to meet Ed Wesolek and the crew at Splash Watersports, and yet again I found a dive family where everyone truly works to make everyone around them better and more skilled divers/people. They do not overly tax new learning divers but can also go at your pace too(I finished Open Water in 6 weeks). It’s truly a personalized process!
You will find something really special here, just take the leap of faith and join us under the waves:)
Thanks Undersea Warriors, love you guys!
Dmitriy Zolotarsky, Army Veteran
The experience with the shop was great. Mike, who was my instructor was just awesome to train with. He reminding me of a very patient father figure who would be happy to go over the practical applications until you are comfortable. I previously had a bad experience with diving and I held off on not continuing this adventure. But after being offered this opportunity I wanted to give it another shot and I'm happy that I did.
This process helped me overcome my fear of diving, and my anxiety of putting myself out in front of other people. Diving has its own little community of friendly people who love to explore the deep and enjoy the peacefulness that comes with diving. It is serene to be underwater, with nothing on your mind except what is around you. It's like meditation but under water. I didn't think that I would love it as much as I do.
Randell Seamen, Army Veteran
"I would like to thank everyone for this opportunity. This new adventure has opened up new opportunities for me. I had issues in the past dealing with my PSTD, losing focus and not being able to get back on track with the tasks I was working on.
I was not able to control my thoughts all the time and it got me into a lot of trouble with family, work and friends. I had not been able to remove the noise that was bothering me. Diving and being underwater has dramatically helped me with those issues.
It is calming and comforting to be able to put on my gear and dive down to an area of complete serenity. No noise, no distractions other than the fish, no worries. I can just focus on my breathing and enjoy the silence. It has helped me with focusing more at work, helped me listen and understand what exactly is going on at home and even helped me reconnect with friends.
For this I am truly in the debt of Undersea Warriors and their generous sponsors. I will forever continue to be an Undersea Warrior myself."
Chris Salters, Army Veteran
Over the last 5 weeks I began my journey into scuba diving. From the get go I was all in, suffering from PTSD I needed to find something that brought joy back into my life. After speaking to a few buddies that where seals they recommend that I check out the Underseas Warriors. From the get go Karl was an amazing person to talk to not only did he help me out with the whole application process, line up a Great Lakes Dive shop here in Michigan and made sure everything was good to go and went even a step further and has checked up on me multiple times. The Underseas Warriors makes you feel like family they are there to help Veterans and that is hard to find sometimes. I will be recommending them to fellow brothers and sisters in arms. Not only do I thank every single one of you from Underseas Warriors but my family does as well.
If you know of any veteran that is struggling with PTSD please reach out it is a great way to relax, have fun and meet new people.
Brian Goodwin, Army Veteran
I found out about this amazing organization through a guy I met at Autozone, of all places. We got to talking and along with finding out we both served in the Army, we are both suffering from PTSD. He mentioned Undersea Warriors to me and I researched immediately. Karl was quick to respond and get my into the program here in AZ.
I was a little apprehensive at first even though I love being in water. Doing this around others, when I didn't know what to do, made me anxious, nervous and almost back out. I pushed forward and it was one of the best decisions for me!! The trainers and classmates were so welcoming and helpful. Putting on the gear and getting into the water was one of the most amazing things I've ever done! From the first time in the water with all the equipment on I was hooked, and all my anxieties went away. It was calming, relaxing, and the thought of doing this with marine life has me wanting even more.
I am very thankful for the opportunity that Undersea Warriors has given me. I cannot express enough how much this has helped me already. The community is so welcoming and helpful that it takes away the nervousness I had and has shown me not to be so apprehensive. It's always a work in progress. If you know any Veteran that suffers from PTSD, please help get them involved in this program.
Thank you for being here and getting people like me involved.
William Salazar Salas, Active Duty Navy
For starters I would like to say thank you, to you, Mr. Josh Beard and Undersea Warriors for giving me this amazing opportunity. For many years I have suffer from very bad anxiety, panic attacks and depression. I have tried many therapists, doctors, yoga, breathing exercises, medications, I even adopted therapeutic animals to help me with this. And none can compare to the relieve and the ease that diving gave me and my mind.
During all 4 of my dives with Mr. Josh Beard and the guys at Atlantic Pro Divers I felt like all my worries and problems were lifted. I don't know what it was but there's something about being under water that puts your mind at ease. For me this was the best therapeutic thing I have done in 7 years. I have to say thanks to Mr. Beard who was such an important influence in this journey. He assisted me all throughout the 4 dives keeping me calm, cool and collected and helping me work on my breathing.
This weekend's dives where such an amazing relieve for my mental health that I had to sign for the Advance Class next month. Again I'm so grateful to Undersea Warriors for allowing me to be part of this.
David Walker II, Army and USMC Veteran
At the beginning I thought there was no way sticking my under 40 feet of water would make my anxiety, stress, and ptsd better. I was skeptical but decided why not give it a go. From the moment I got to the bottom of the pool, I realized how serene it was even though I wasn’t looking at anything fancy or amazingly beautiful. My mind was at peace and the millions of stresses I had seemed to float away. We did our dives in a quarry in slippery rock, pa, and though the water wasn’t clear, we got to see things most people don’t. We saw freshwater jellies, trout hanging about, bass swimming up to our faces, and just the whole ecosystem under the water. During that all my fears thoughts stresses and anxiety were completely gone. This was all due to the undersea warriors, and they changed my life forever.