Today is not just Nov. 11, 2016, another date on the calendar. Today is a day of remembrance and recognition to those who have served and given their all for our country. Today is Veterans Day.
Here at Georgia Aquarium, we are dedicated to supporting and honoring the men and women who have served in our armed forces and protected our freedom. Some might wonder how the Aquarium and Veterans are connected, and the answer is quite simple. Through our Military Salute program, we are able to provide positive and impactful experiences not only for Veterans, but military personnel and their families.
One program in particular dedicated solely to our nation’s wounded heroes is our Veterans Immersion Program (VIP). As a thank you for our Veterans’ incredible service, Georgia Aquarium developed the Veterans Immersion Program in 2008, providing participants unique adjunctive therapy to compliment current rehabilitation and reintegration programs. Veteran participants challenge themselves with an experience outside their comfort zones, encounter enormous animals, and for some, relax and move in the water in ways they may not be able to on land.
Here’s a few impactful numbers of our commitment to Veterans and our military personnel:
- 10,000: approximately the amount of military personnel who have visited on Military Mondays since 2015
- 5,600: approximately the number of hours Georgia Aquarium staff have dedicated to serving wounded heroes through our VIP
- 2,166: the number of VIP participants since its launch in 2008
- 365: how many days a year guests of all abilities and military personnel are welcome
- 274: the amount of veteran groups who have participated in our VIP since 2008
- 25: the amount of Georgia Aquarium team members who make up the world’s largest team of Handicapped Scuba Association International Certified Dive Masters and Instructors
- Invaluable: The expressions of joy, relief and amazement as Veterans complete their immersion program in Ocean Voyager
At the very beginning of our Veterans Immersion Program is Susan Oglesby, C.T.R.S., director of dive immersion. To this day, she is still actively assisting and interacting with the wounded heroes in the program, allowing her passion for empowering people to shine through.
“We’re here to serve these military and act as a facilitator and catalyst in support of their journey,” said Oglesby. “It is an honor to invite them be a part of something bigger than themselves.”
Our Veterans Immersion Program is part of Georgia Aquarium’s Military Salute, which also includes reenlistment support, Military Mondays, Gold Star initiatives, and special military event days.
Have a Veteran hero in your life? Nominate them in our #MyVeteranHero Contest presented by The Home Depot by Nov. 30 for a chance to win the ultimate Aquarium experience.