Dive program for veterans kicks off at OdySea Aquarium

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (KSAZ) - Retired soldier Stephen Martin was injured in Afghanistan when he and his crew ran over a detonated humvee.

He broke all of his ribs, both hips, and his left arm and elbow.

After the accident, he tried saving both of his legs, but in 2009 he decided he'd be better off without them.

However, the U.S. Army and Arizona National Guard veteran says life has been pretty sweet ever since.

"It's weird to think that something so crazy can lead to so many different opportunities," he said.

Thanks to opportunities like today at OdySea Aquarium, with the SeaTrek diving program.

"Sometimes work and life gets in the way and you don't get to do things like this for fun and so it was a good time," he said. "The hardest part is walking on uneven ground. Because I don't have ankles, it can be challenging to walk, but this was easy."

Local non-profit Wings for Warriors teamed up with the aquarium to make this inaugural dive program possible for Martin and three other veterans.

"A lot of these veterans might have PTSD, anxiety, some of them have seen combat, some of them have not, some of them have injuries, some of them do not," said Anthony Ameen, CEO and founder of Wings for Warriors. "As they came out onto the stairwell right there, all smiles, all smiles and I just think it's really cool that we were able to make an impact on their life somehow."

"We have quite a huge vet population in the Valley and we just wanted to give back," said Dave Perranteau of OdySea Aquarium.

For Martin, the opportunity to dive today is one he'll never forget.

"I mean, it's never going to be the same... but it's still fun!" he said.

OdySea Aquarium  
9500  E. Via de Ventura, Scottsdale, AZ 85256
www.odyseaaquarium.com
480-291-8000

Wings for Warriors
https://wingsforwarriors.org/

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