Hi, my name is Demond Wilson and I served with the United States Marine Corps, 2nd battalion 5th Marines in Camp Pendleton, California between 1996-2001. I am a C5, C6 quadriplegic who had the opportunity to participate in the scuba diving experience through the Winter Sports Clinic.
The diving experience helped me overcome challenges that I didn't think I could do anymore. It was mentally therapeutic, and really fun! An example of a challenge I was able to overcome was extending my hand to throw an under water missile. I did this by being able to open my hand and release. Furthermore, I was able to grab the bolts that were placed under water by extending my fingers, and then stacking them. This too was a challenge I overcame.
From the perspective of a caregiver and a sister, the scuba diving experience for Demond was literally a life changing experience. Given the opportunity to participate in activities that were once experienced without an injury, the scuba diving experience helped to awaken something within, and helped to create another sense of hope. Hope that one feels when they've felt all hope for certain activities were gone. Not only did the experience increase his confidence, it has helped to pave the way for more opportunities, activities and experiences. The scuba diving experience allowed Demond to use his muscles in ways that they may not have been used outside of the water. The therapeutic experience of his arms and legs showed improvement and precision with the help of the activities provided under water. Moreover, his internal organs, such as his lungs were exercised as well, surpassing many records of staying under water with the oxygen tank provided. The expertise and assistance of the scuba instructors: Bubba, Darren Cook and Devon (just to name a few) helped to encourage Demond during the experience. He felt safe and secure with their knowledge of the profession, but more importantly, I think he felt "unjudged". The only limit to activities performed during the scuba experience were those of the mind; and if you ask me, we had no limits.
As for myself, the scuba diving experience was a first time experience. I would say that I was very nervous and excited at the same time. The instructors were very informative, and I enjoyed the experience once i just began to BREATHE... I felt safe, and as if I were in good hands, being informed, instructed and monitored every step of the way. The most essential part of the whole experience to me however, was the fact that I was able to experience scuba diving with my brother. It was a phenomenal experience having a bolt building competition, and playing nurf football under water. This is now something Demond and I can do together in our home state as a new hobby.
In closing, we would like to say thank you for our scuba diving experience, your warm welcome, and your expertise in the sport of scuba. We look forward to attending your upcoming events around the country.
Demond C. Wilson
I'm a Marine Corps Veteran, 1st Marine, 1st Tank Battalion, who fell 45' while on a training exercise in 1981. This injury left me a incomplete paraplegic. I struggled with self esteem issues, which led to depression, which then led to abusing pain meds, and other drugs. I'd would like to give a HUGE shout-out to TVAP. While attending the Winter Sports Clinic, for disabled Veterans, I lost a game of pool, so on a bet, I promised I would attend the introduction to SCUBA program. The next day, I showed up ready to check it out, and I'm so glad I did!!!! From first arriving, I felt very comfortable. The staff was welcoming, knowledgeable, understanding, and I had an overwhelming feeling that they loved Veterans. After getting on the gear, and a tutorial of the equipment, we slipped under the water. It was simply amazing. I felt safe, and at the same time, intrigued at the beauty of neutral buoyancy.
Bottom line is this experience has had a big impact on my life. Thank you TVAP!!!!!
David McPherson, USMC
1st Marine, 1st Tank Division
I served with the United States Army, 89th Military Police Brigade from 2000 to 2005. In 2004 I got hurt, suffering a life-changing Traumatic Brain Injury. Discharged in 2005, my life has been a slow climb back out of that TBI event. I'm always looking for safe and fun athletic activities I can do, but there's not much out there for me. I first met and went diving with the guys from TVAP in Snowmass, CO in 2008. I enjoy the freedom and close friendships and have gone back every year since, often diving every day. I now dive with my new service dog, Boone, waiting for me back on the surface. I hope that soon we'll get to go diving in a warm open water diving location, maybe like Mexico.
United States Army
89th Military Police Brigade 2000-2005
I have attended the DAV Winter Sports Clinic consecutively for the last four years and each time I have participated in the TVAP Pool Scuba Diving Program. I enjoy working with knowledgeable, fun, and upbeat instructors and the camaraderie with fellow veterans in a well organized program. This is a great program which allows me to experience scuba diving in a safe controlled environment as a C4 Quadriplegic and I find this not only physically therapeutic but also mentally therapeutic. Scuba diving allows me the physical ability to move freely through the water experiencing total mobility.
US Army Retired
Vice President,Disabled Veterans Assoc.