KING 5’s Drew Mikkelsen reports.
Joan Kinsey, KING 5 EVENING3:28 p.m. PDT September 2, 2015
(Photo: KING 5 Evening)
Des Moines, WA. — In the calm waters of Puget Sound the healing begins for a team of veterans scarred by war.
“I had a light case of TBI, traumatic brain injury”, said scuba diving Mike Biggs. “Kind of went through a state of depression, not being able to function that well.”
Biggs suffered his injuries after serving three tours in Iraq. For Ken Young it’s a similar story.
“One of my injuries was a traumatic brain injury which was pretty severe, cognitive difficulties. I have sensory loss,” explained Young.
Adjusting to civilian life while dealing with so much hurt seemed insurmountable. But, then these men found support in a brotherhood called SWAT, Scuba Warrior Alumni Team.
Biggs said, “Part of diving is the buddy system. You’ve got to learn to stick together and start talking.”
The local, non-profit organization, Heartbeat Serving Wounded Warriors backs the team, their training, and open water dives.
Both Biggs and Young became scuba instructors for the program and now lead other veterans into a liquid space where weightlessness clears the mind and eases pain.
Scuba Warrior, Jordon Scott said, “Under the water I feel weightless, I don’t have knee problems, I don’t feel my back problems. It just puts me in a playful mood.”
Biggs added, “For me there are times I will just float and just meditate.
Young said, “I’m in the water something changes, I come out a new man. I can think clearly, I feel like my brain is working quicker, I can feel hot and cold which normally I don’t. I can smell which normally I don’t. Now it’s hard to tell I have a condition.”
From land, Young’s daughter, Cassandra can see the positive changes , too. She’s witnessed how time under water can heal most wounds.
“And it’s really helped everyone in my family and it really makes him so happy and it makes me so happy,” she said.
The battle isn’t over yet for the Scuba Warriors, but with every dive, they experience new-found freedom.
“I love it , I get out there I get excited. Diving is my life here,” said Biggs.