In the early morning hours of Apr. 27, a group of disabled veterans conducted their first volunteer Canyon Lake environmental clean-up.
The veterans are members of the WAVES Project (Wounded American Veterans Experience Scuba), a 501c (3) non-profit established in 2013 to provide an opportunity for American veterans with service-connected disabilities and their families to experience scuba diving.
“Scuba Diving is used as a form of therapy for the disabled vets,” said Chaplain Sid Siez, a Divemaster and former Canyon Lake resident.
The 21 trained scuba divers from all different military branches focused their Canyon Lake clean-up on trash at the bottom of the lake between the Holiday Harbor boat docks and the lodge boat docks.
“As beautiful as the lake is on top of the water, what lies unseen from the surface showed the divers this type of clean-up was a major need,” said Sid.
Organizing the volunteer clean-up took several different entities to make it happen. Veteran diver Patrick Runion worked with the City of Canyon Lake and the POA to get approval for the dive. A Marine Patrol boat was stationed near the divers and Canyon Lake Fire Station 60 was on stand-by during the clean-up. CR&R donated a dumpster for the trash collected.
During the two-hour dive, the veterans pulled bicycles, office chairs, scooters and several bags of aluminum cans and bottles from the bottom of the lake.
Several large items, such as shopping carts and tires, remain on the bottom of the lake. Currently, the WAVES Project divers don’t have access to the special equipment needed to remove the larger, heavier items. They are hoping a donation will afford them the opportunity to purchase the equipment needed so they can remove these items from the lake in the near future.
At WAVES each veteran and a dive companion of their choice can experience the freedom of scuba diving free of charge. WAVES takes each candidate and their dive buddy through open water certification. From the classroom to open water dives, the veterans can experience the many benefits of scuba diving, regardless of their injury.
WAVES works with all levels of the military, from brain trauma, double and triple amputees to PTSD. For more information or to make a donation, visit wavesproject.org.