Military Veterans on a New Mission, To Save Coral Reefs in Florida

An organization is helping veterans through scuba diving – and saving our coral reefs and marine wildlife.

Force Blue recruits former military members to go on scuba diving missions to help preserve and protect our coral reefs as well as wildlife like Florida’s green sea turtle population. The project not only helps to nurture our oceans – it also helps to nurture the veterans involved, many of whom struggle with PTSD or depression.

Force Blue co-founder Jim Ritterhoff, who had been suffering from depression himself after serving as a Recon Marine, says he first got the idea after he and his friend went scuba diving in 2015. The experience was so powerful for them, that he realized it could help other former service members. “We were like, ‘wait a second, we can do some real good for our veteran community and at the same time, we can use our veteran community to help the environment and reach an audience that currently isn’t getting the message,” Ritterhoff said. “[That audience] may not listen to scientists, but they’ll listen to navy seals and they’ll listen to marines because these guys are their heroes.”

Since launching, Force Blue has recruited dozens of veterans and logged thousands of hours in their mission to heal the ocean – and themselves.