A combat-wounded veteran cares for corals and tests new dive prosthetics in an underwater coral nursery.
Vulneror non Vincor, the Latin motto of the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge , means "I am wounded, not conquered." The maxim is also applicable to coral reefs, which have declined worldwide in recent decades, but benefit from science and conservation efforts. To help bolster coral populations in NOAA's Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, volunteer divers with the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge and the youth group SCUBAnauts recently joined scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory in reef restoration efforts.
Participating veterans included amputees, double amputees, the recipient of a double lung transplant, and those with traumatic brain injuries. Some are outfitted with special waterproof prosthetics that allow them to dive. The veterans, their SCUBAnaut dive partners, and Mote scientists transplanted 600 Staghorn corals on Keys' reefs. At the same time, the veterans were testing new prosthetic devices for swimming and diving.
One wounded warrior said after the dive, "Life is not over. There's a future if you want it. Sometimes all people need is a nudge. We are still an active part of society, and we can be hired to do any job put in front of us."
This restoration event was supported by NOAA and The Nature Conservancy's Community-Based Restoration Program, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, private donors, Fury Watersports in Key West, and Mote and its Protect Our Reefs license plate program.