Pat Young
Winn ACH Public Affairs
Photo by Capt. Aubrey Boswell
Spc. Ryan Kosen, left, Spc. Kenneth Johnson, Lt. Col. LaShune Leslie, all with the Fort Stewart Soldier Recovery Unit, receive instructions from a dive instructor as they participate in scuba train­ing, Oct. 19 in Richmond Hill.

Scuba training yields positive recovery results

Individuals with the Fort Stewart Soldier Recovery Unit participated in self-contained underwater breathing apparatus training - scuba diving - Oct. 19-20 as part of the battalion’s Adaptive Reconditioning Program.
Lt. Col. Edward Ziembinski, the SRU Battalion Commander, said the scuba training was one of the programs that helped the Fort Stewart SRU earn the Regional Health Command – Atlantic’s Best SRU for three years in a row.
He said the award reflects the efforts of recovering Soldiers and the cadre in their approach to help Soldiers either return to active -duty service or transition to civilian life.
“We don’t look at this as we’re just holding on to people while they’re attending medical appointments and going through the recovery process,” Ziembinski said. “We approach this as, we are their battalion. We’ve got a mission. It’s not just medical. It’s also getting after adaptive reconditioning programs like our scuba training here.”
Ziembinski said every day the Soldiers and cadre develop innovative ways to assist in their recovery. He said the battalion’s focus isn’t just physical, but includes the Soldier’s mental and spiritual wellbeing. Examples of activ­ities include hunting trips, promoting Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation events, cycling, running, swimming, and marathons.
The adaptive recovery program, led by Yvonne Larochelle, works on core physical training; but also takes the next step by having their occupation­al therapists and physical therapists add extra therapeutic activities - such as scuba.
“Scuba is a whole body workout,” Ziembinski said. “It’s an activity that the Soldiers are very interested in. It helps a lot with their pain manage­ment, and it expands adaptive recon­ditioning beyond just the physical training that we would normally do. We do this program every single six weeks. That way for the Soldiers, it’s predictable.”
Lauren Myers, a member of the SRU Adaptive Reconditioning Team, learned about the Discover Scuba training, offered by a Richmond Hill -based dive shop – free to the public. She coordinated the training, with the assistance of recreational therapist, Melissa Tolliver-Lewis and the support of the rest of the ART, Chrystal Scott, Victoria Ziegler and Janet Wagner.
Larochelle said when she took lead of the Adaptive Reconditioning Program, she immediately saw the value in continuing the scuba training because of the beneficial effects on the musculoskeletal and behavioral health issues for SRU Soldiers.
Larochelle said she knew the scuba class would be a great addition to the Adaptive Reconditioning program. It not only helps the SRU Soldiers with their pain management, but it grabs their interest too.
“They (SRU Soldiers) are always looking forward to it,” Larochelle said. “They plan for this event. They love it. As soon as we return, they’re already planning for the next time.”
Rob Lanoue, the owner of the dive shop that runs the Discover Scuba pro­gram said he’s happy to help the SRU Soldiers as it allows him to give back to the military. He said many veterans who adopted the sport have expressed positive results. Lanoue said studies have shown water pressure in depths to about sixty feet help the body release serotonin to the brain – providing a sense of calm and wellness.