KEY WEST (CBS4) – Less than a year after being seriously wounded in an attack in Afghanistan, a U.S. Army Special Ops soldier old, his wife and their teenage son took part in an immersive therapy experience in the Keys.
Army Chief Warrant Officer Scott Schroeder, of Clarksville, Tennessee lost both of his legs and the full use of his right arm last December when his vehicle rolled over a hidden roadside bomb.
On Tuesday Schroeder was reintroduced to scuba diving on a shallow reef with his wife and son who are earning their open water certification.
Schroeder is one of seven severely wounded Special Operations soldiers learning or refining scuba skills with their families in Key West this week during a trip coordinated by Task Force Dagger Foundation, a Texas-based organization established in 2009.
“We’re in a hospital environment all the time, and to come out here as a family is a great thing,” said Schroeder. “Emotionally, we’re recharging and rehabilitating.”
Before he was injured Schroeder had contacted Task Force Dagger Foundation managing director Keith David about donating his time and energy to the organization to help wounded comrades.
“I originally thought I was going to be on the giving end,” he said. “Here I find I’m on the receiving end of the foundation, and I’m blessed that they were there to help me and my family recover together.”
Despite being scuba certified in the late 1980s, Schroeder had to take a refresher course primarily to adapt his knowledge to his new capabilities. Special hi-tech prosthetic “swim legs” help propel him through the water.
“Every time we go on a vacation, one thing he wants to do is go diving, but he won’t do it because we’re not certified,” said Laura Schroeder. “So now, when we go on vacations, we can certainly go out with him.”
David said Task Force Dagger Foundation’s family focus sets it apart from other organizations.
“When the soldier is injured or wounded, the whole family is wounded,” David said. “One of the things we try and do is help them heal as a family unit.”
The week-long project, that ends Friday, has been embraced by the Key West community. Hotels have given reduced-rate accommodations, while dive shops and restaurants are providing complimentary trips and meals.
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