Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Swimming with Sharks Helps Veterans Feel Whole Again

Another terrific story about veterans finding solace underwater.

Retired Army Spc. Scott Winkler had many scary encounters while serving in Iraq, but they were nothing compared with his recent experience at the world's largest aquarium: swimming alongside a massive whale shark.

The fact that Winkler, 35, of Augusta, Georgia, is a paraplegic made the once-in-a-lifetime experience even more challenging.

"It's like you're in space," Winkler said. "It's like you're an able body again. It makes you feel so free."

Winkler was paralyzed five years ago during an accident while unloading ammunition in Tikrit, Iraq.

He is one of more than two dozen disabled veterans who have participated in the Fish Wish program at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta during the past two months.

A separate swim and dive program is open to the public, but the waiting list is nearly full until the end of the year.

The experience isn't cheap. A half-hour dive costs $290. The veterans swam for free.

Continue reading...

Also, be sure to check out these related Scuba Diving Blog posts:

- Limbless Veterans Experience the Thrill of Scuba Diving
- Paralyzed Vietnam Veteran Finds Freedom in Scuba Diving
- Wounded Vets Find Strength Beneath the Waves

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