by Curlan Campbell
- Unable to travel to Egypt because of Covid-19 restrictions, group came to Grenada
- Group scuba dived at some of Grenada’s best dive sites
- Deptherapy has helped British soldiers suffering from a wide range of injuries
UK Veteran soldiers like Jason Court are given a second lease on life through new charity Deptherapy & Deptherapy Education. Court, 21, was among several veteran soldiers who served during the Afghanistan war. They briefly visited Grenada to continue their rehabilitation after suffering debilitating injuries. Head of Operations for Deptherapy Richard Cullen, chose Grenada as an alternative dive site destination after the group was unable to travel to Egypt because of Covid-19 restrictions.
Court, of the Royal Navy, was medically discharged following a vehicular accident while travelling to his frontline HMS Ark Royal. Court sustained traumatic injuries to his spine, shoulders, legs and arms and suffered a subdural haematoma in his brain, which now results in severe memory loss.
Transitioning back to civilian life after he was wounded took a heavy toll on Court’s mental health and social life. “It was life-changing. My relationship with my girlfriend broke down. I was 21 at the time, a fit lad, then my relationship ended and I was in a wheelchair, learning to walk again and get my memories back. It was emotional, and I felt quite lonely at times,” he said.
While being rehabilitated at Headley Court, the UK’s leading rehabilitation centre for injured soldiers after they have left the hospital, Court learned of the charity group, Deptherapy & Deptherapy Education from a friend he met while at Headley Court. Hesitant due to his still quite limited mobility post-recovery, the idea piqued his interest since he had prior exposure to scuba diving, which eventually compelled him to join the organisation.
Court said he has seen deptherapy help countless British soldiers suffering from a wide range of injuries, including amputation, paralysis, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and he is a testament to that as well.
In-depth scientific research is quite limited. Anecdotal evidence of research dating back to 2016 suggests that those army veterans suffering from debilitating injuries who experience weightlessness associated with scuba diving experience, feel relief from constant pain, while water resistance helps to strengthen wasted muscles. Through Deptherapy, veterans are said to experience a decrease in levels of anxiety and depression after experiencing scuba diving, while ex-military amputees with chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have experienced therapeutic benefits from being exposed. Participants get to achieve their PADI Open Water Diver certification card in the process.
The team of ex-military UK soldiers and Cullen, were destined to travel to Roots Red Sea, Egypt, to engage in species ID and ecology Marine biology programme. They were unable to travel because of Covid-19. After realising that they could lose their expedition funding from the Armed Forces’ Covenant Fund Trust, the team chose Grenada as an alternative dive site destination, because Grenada is on the UK’s green list.
Cullen continues to see the lives of ex-military amputees change over time since co-founding the organisation. He is particularly pleased to also provide a first-class Buddy Peer Support Scheme, utilising those of team members who are mental health first aid trained to actively support Programme Members when they return home after returning from the vacation destination.
“For people with mental illness is just so relaxing under the water but then you also have to provide 24/7 support that we actually give to people with mental health issues because what happens is that they go back from a trip like this and it like holiday blues except even worse because they have post-traumatic stress disorder so we have to make sure that we support them,” Cullen said.
The group stayed at the True Blue Bay Resort and went scuba diving at some of the best dive sites Grenada has to offer through Aquanauts Grenada. They also met with the Minister of Tourism Dr Clarice Modeste-Curwen.
Already the team is booked to visit Roots Red Sea, Egypt in 2022, where they are expected to continue their marine biology research on the health of coral reefs. The following year the team will be off to French Polynesia to continue their therapy.
For veterans like Jason, the renewed hope and second chance at life has completely changed his life. Since his recovery, Court has attained a degree in diagnostic radiography and is optimistic about the future of the organisation as they seek to continue to support veterans.