Living in a land where the battles of freedom most often take place in countries far from home, it can be easy to get lost in our day-to-day lives and lose sight of the cost of that freedom.
For those who have bravely served, many return wearing the physical and emotional scars that often go along with that service. Forced to live with the trauma and memories that can haunt their every day, there are many that have a difficult time adjusting when they return home. For those individuals, the physical and invisible injuries including anxiety, survivor’s guilt, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are very real. And while we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s heroes, we can always do a little more.
Every year several of our nation’s “wounded warriors” and other combat veterans are provided a once in a lifetime experience to swim with the sharks as part of the 4th of July Shark Dive in Juniper, Florida.
Working with “Shark Addicts,” a local charter experience that specializes in taking groups out for fully immersive shark diving expeditions, boat captains from across the Florida coast come together to raise funds for the local Wounded Warriors program and share a truly unique experience with our nation’s veterans. Each trip is specifically designed to bring those participating safely face-to-face with the region’s most prolific shark species.
Every year Peter Morello Sr., president of CIS Security Solutions, captains a team for the “Dive for Freedom” event, partnering with combat veteran and Congressman Brian Mast for an event that brightens spirits and raises money for many local veterans’ organizations. Starting on the morning of the 4th, the objective of the venture is to bring these remarkable individuals together to hang out, trade stories, and share a special adventure.
“The 4th of July for many veterans can be very difficult,” says Pete Morello Jr., national sales representative at CIS. “Many suffer from PTSD, and dealing with what the day represents, or even the explosions and bright lights of the celebration can sometimes trigger thoughts that can spark emotional difficulty bringing back painful memories that can be hard to deal with.”
“On a personal level, we had a close friend who was a combat veteran and wounded warrior who took his own life on the 4th of July as he was trying to deal with the overwhelming emotions that were only amplified by the meaning the day held for him,” he added. “So, this event holds special meaning for us. We see it as a way to give back and honor those who have served by giving them an amazing, joyous experience that makes them feel special and appreciated on this important day. It’s a way of allowing them to relax and enjoy themselves, knowing that their service and sacrifice are so greatly appreciated. There is no better way we can show our appreciation for those that have sacrificed the most than to give them a special day they won’t forget.”