Valley non-profit helps disabled veterans become certified scuba divers

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (KSAZ) - "When you're in the military, you feel like you're responsible for things that most people in this world will never understand and when you're in the water, it's like you forget everything," Santiago Ruiz said.

Disable veterans from all over the country are meeting in the Valley to become certified scuba divers.

It's an effort made possible by veteran non-profit Diving Devil Dogs. The group strives to reach as many veterans as possible to put an end to what they believe is an epidemic often seen in war veterans, including PTSD, mental illness and veteran suicide.

"The number one cause that we feel is this loss of identity because when we see veterans who are really struggling, trying to find out where they fit again," James Richardson said.

The weekend course starts in Goodyear and ends Sunday with a certification ceremony at Lake Pleasant. It allows these eight disabled veterans to pick up a new skill or even a hobby, while gaining an experience they feel is incomparable.

"It's like you're forgetting the world because sometimes you feel like the weight of the world is on your back," Ruiz said. "You're just enjoying the experience, enjoying the silence. You just hear your heartbeat and it's like it all comes back to center."

Diving Devil Dogs