Help preserve precious coral reefs and rehabilitate returning combat veterans. One tank of air provides one hour of dive time for a veteran to restore coral reefs.
One-quarter of the world’s marine life call coral reefs home. Not only are these reefs some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet, they provide food, protection, income, and new medicines, generating $375 billion in goods and services each year. Sadly, 60% of the world’s coral reefs are either dead or in decline. Scientists have discovered, however, that our reefs are incredibly resilient if stresses are removed. The reefs can be saved, but time is of the essence.
Combat veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan know a pain and trauma that is so concentrated, it is almost impossible to work through. On top of this, converting military training to non-military work only makes things worse. FORCE BLUE is the answer for both these American heroes and coral reefs in trouble.
FORCE BLUE trains select Special Operations veterans to preserve and restore coral reefs by transplanting coral to ensure its survival, removing invasive species, and working to relieve other man-made stressors. One such veteran is FORCE BLUE co-founder and Recon Marine Rudy Reyes, who portrayed himself in the HBO TV series Generation Kill. Rudy is a highly decorated veteran of multiple combat deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa. Rudy also struggles with PTS, and has faced endless difficulties transitioning back to civilian life. At one point, Rudy even spent a full year in rehab for what he openly admits was his addiction to “drugs, alcohol, and violence.”
Rudy, like so many veterans, feel lost upon returning home from deployment due to lack of a positive mission and a team to help carry out that mission. For over a decade, Rudy operated as a highly trained Special Forces combat diver, but had never been recreational SCUBA diving before. This changed when he took a diving trip to the Cayman Islands. One friend stated by the second day Rudy’s smile was back…and by day four, his purpose. Shortly after, the idea was hatched to bring in more of his Recon Marine brothers from all branches of service, in addition to marine scientists and coral reef conservationists to form FORCE BLUE.
For these veterans, putting their training to use once again for a positive purpose is life-changing. For coral reefs and the world, their work will go a long way to saving these much-needed ecosystems.