(Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect that PADI will also be partnering with Force Blue at the fundraiser.)

The Force Blue nonprofit organization plans to hold a fundraising event in California next week to support dive training efforts for military veterans.

Force Blue helps former combat divers and special operations veterans in their assimilation back to civilian life by giving them a new, positive mission to help the planet — one that teaches veterans about marine ecosystems and the threats they face.

Dive training agencies PADI and NAUI Worldwide are among the organizations that are supporting the fundraiser, scheduled for Thursday, February 9th at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, California.

According to PADI:

“PADI is working closely with the co-founders of FORCE BLUE, Jim Ritterhoff and Rudy Reyes, along with Keith Sahm, the general manager of the Caribbean dive resort, Sunset House.

“For men who previously viewed our oceans as a battlefield, FORCE BLUE has allowed them to see its true beauty, and support through vital conservation efforts.”

A new Scuba and Nitrox dual-course certification package donated by NAUI Worldwide will be showcased during a silent auction as part of the event.

That dual-course certification package is one of 10 that NAUI Worldwide has donated to Force Blue.

In addition to the auction, the evening will feature a live performance by country music star Cliff Cody, an open bar, hors d’oeuvres, and guest speakers.

Force Blue Co-Founder and Executive Director Jim Ritterhoff says:

“We are very excited about the generous support we have received from NAUI. Our Special Operations and combat diver military veterans are eager to launch their new mission to help repair the coral reef’s fragile ecosystem. Documenting this unprecedented event is extremely important. The funds raised will help us help Vets help the planet by allowing them to share their unique stories and experiences while engaging in a positive mission that will not only help our underwater world, but also help themselves.”

The donated dual courses will be used to help the organization in its fundraising campaign to support professional video documentation of the inaugural Force Blue dive team as those divers learn how to adapt their skills to repair and preserve a damaged stretch of coral reef off the coast of Grand Cayman this coming spring.

NAUI Executive Director Dallas Edmiston says:

“We are excited to support this outstanding effort by FORCE BLUE. Its mission directly aligns with NAUI’s, which is to empower people to enjoy underwater activities as safely as possible by providing the highest quality practical education and to actively promote the preservation and protection of the world’s underwater environment.”

If you live in the Southern California area, admission to the event is free, and donations are tax-deductible. You can get tickets via Facebook or Eventbrite.

John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at DeeperBlue.com. He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.

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