Congressman Allen West dives with veterans

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. - Congressman Allen West and disabled veterans are celebrating the sport of diving. The group dove to a wreck at 50 feet off Pompano Beach and marked the occasion with an underwater ceremonial American flag tribute.

"We are blessed to have an abundance of beautiful reefs and wrecks just off our shores. Even after many years of diving in South Florida, there is always something new to discover," says Congressman West. "I am honored to be able to share the freedom and serenity of the underwater experience with Diveheart divers."

June is "learn to dive month" and the greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau is teaming up with the National Diveheart Foundation and Congressman West.

All are promoting the sport encouraging visitors and locals to learn to scuba dive.

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U.S. CONGRESSMAN ALLEN WEST AND AMERICAN VETERANS FROM DIVEHEART FOUNDATION SALUTE JUNE AS ‘LEARN TO DIVE MONTH'

GREATER FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - June is Greater Fort Lauderdale's official "Learn to Dive Month," encouraging visitors and locals to learn to scuba dive. On June 12, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau is teaming up with the national Diveheart Foundation and Congressman Allen West, who proudly represents Florida's 22nd district, on a special event celebrating the many positive benefits of the sport.

Congressman Allen West, a PADI Master and retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel, will host the dive group of veterans and disabled divers affiliated with Diveheart and Veterans Ocean Adventures, to the Ancient Mariner Wreck, formerly known as the USCG cutter Nemesis. The wreck, sunk in June 1991, is located just one mile from shore with an average depth of 50 feet. The group will mark the occasion with an underwater ceremonial American flag tribute. 

Greater Fort Lauderdale's Learn to Dive program offers would-be and returning divers a simple way to experience the underwater thrills of exploring the area's accessible and abundant marine life. The program is designed to show how easy it is to learn to dive by featuring online training and certification through local dive operators and shops. Participants can go from training to graduation to their dive vacation in a few simple steps. Scuba diving is a powerful sport offering adventure and excitement, as well as positive benefits helping individuals with disabilities. The weightless sensation of scuba is a relief for the disabled, many of whom can fly through the water.

"We are blessed to have an abundance of beautiful reefs and wrecks just off our shores. Even after many years of diving in South Florida, there is always something new to discover," says Congressman West. "I am honored to be able to share the freedom and serenity of the underwater experience with Diveheart divers."

Jim Elliott, founder and president of Diveheart, said, "One of Diveheart's goals is to help facilitate adaptive scuba programs around the country and the world -- and we direct our teams down to South Florida and the warm waters of places like Fort Lauderdale. Individuals with disabilities who have thermal regulation issues benefit from not only the zero gravity of being in the water, but also the warmth of the water. This June 12 dive is all about freedom. Just as our military veterans have served our country and helped preserve our freedom, we give them an opportunity to explore freedom from gravity, scuba diving in the warm, clear waters off Ft. Lauderdale."

"I am so pleased to be a part of this event with Congressman West and the Diveheart Foundation. We launched the Learn to Dive program to educate newcomers to the sport on how easy is it to learn to Scuba," said Nicki E. Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The host dive operator for the event is South Florida Diving Headquarters, owned an operated by Sherry and Jeff Torode based in Pompano Beach. South Florida Diving Headquarters has been on featured national show such as The Discovery Channel, Inside Edition and The History Channel. In 2001 they were recognized by the Ocean Watch Foundation and awarded the Ocean Environment Award and in 2008 received the Recognition & Appreciation Award by the US Coral Reef Task Force. www.southfloridadiving.com

For more information about Greater Fort Lauderdale and "Learn to Dive Month," visit www.sunny.org/learntodive  

About Greater Fort Lauderdale: From the sawgrass to the seagrass, Greater Fort Lauderdale boasts more than 34,000 lodging accommodations at a variety of hotels, luxury spa resorts, and Superior Small Lodgings reflecting a "beach chic" vibe. Visitors enjoy 23 miles of Blue Wave certified beaches, discover 300+ miles of inland waterways that run from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Everglades, dine at thousands of restaurants and eateries, get immersed

in a thriving arts and culture scene and indulge in top shopping. For more info, contact the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 22-SUNNY or visit www.sunny.org . The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau can also be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/visitlauderdale or become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/visitlauderdale . To have Greater Fort Lauderdale in the palm of your hand, download the free iPhone application, iVisitLauderdale at www.sunny.org/iphone .

About The Diveheart Foundation: The Diveheart Foundation was founded in Early 2001 and is a non-profit tax exempt 501 (C) (3) national organization chartered in the state of Illinois. The purpose of Diveheart is to provide and support educational SCUBA diving and snorkeling experience programs that are open to any child, adult, or veteran with a disability with the hope of providing both physical and psychological therapeutic value to that person. It is the "CAN DO" spirit that Diveheart hopes to instill in all its participants by giving them the confidence and independence that allows them to face their own life challenges and overcome barriers that before might have seemed insurmountable.

Through SCUBA diving, the Diveheart Foundation supports and facilitates programs that teach children and adults with disabilities to fly. Thanks to the wonder of the water column, the oceans and lakes of the world become the forgiving weightless environment of outer space, giving perfect buoyancy to a child or adult who would otherwise struggle on land. www.diveheart.org

Diveheart and its Diveheart Military Wounded group work with various other partners in South Florida with a similar mission, including Veterans Ocean Adventures.

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