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Wounded Warriors Given Red Carpet Treatment

Injured veterans head to Cayman Islands for scuba diving adventure

July 1, 2011

  © Houston Airport System
  More than 20 wounded service members took part in this year's event.
Twenty wounded service members from the United States Military received a special send off as they traveled through George Bush Intercontinental Airport on their way to the Cayman Islands.

The group was on their way to the Caribbean, thanks to members of the Dive Pirates Foundation, an organization committed to providing an annual adventure for those service members who have been severely wounded in overseas combat.

The group of 20 heroes, and 68 others traveling in support of the program, took off from Houston on June 18 and returned home a week later.

“It is a privilege to give back, especially to those injured while fighting for the freedom of others,” says Dive Pirates spokesperson Theresa Cortez. “This is something I have always believed in and I have met so many inspiring people whose lives may have been changed by a disability, but whose spirit of adventure is stronger than ever.”

Cortez says they enjoyed the “red carpet treatment” from the moment they arrived at Bush Airport. Members of the Houston Airport System and the Houston Police Department were deeply involved in coordinating the entire drop-off process in front of Terminal C, since many of the heroes participating in this year’s event travel with specialized equipment.

Once inside the terminal facility, members of the Transportation Security Administration made sure that queue and screening areas were solely dedicated to accommodating the special guests. The end result of all the coordination was a seamless trip for the heroes, all the way from the curbside drop-off area to their seat on the plane.

The foundation was launched seven years ago, when several diving enthusiasts from across the country decided it was time to give back to those men and women who had sacrificed so much in the service of their country. Those behind the program still take part in the dives, but the focus is placed squarely on “guests of honor.”

“We give up cameras and poking around the reefs to show a disabled person another world,” says Dive Pirates co-founder Barbara Thompson. “It takes their minds off their particular disability and we hope we’ve introduced them to something they will love for life.”

Organizers say the trips have become so popular, half of the service members attending this year’s event were return divers who had taken part in the annual program in prior years. 
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