A group of wounded US military veterans swam with bottlenose dolphins in the Florida Keys on January 9, as part of a Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) initiative to help improve their mental health.
The soldiers, who have injuries ranging from missing limbs to post traumatic stress disorder, visited the Dolphin Research Center, which has run similar programs for more than 25 years.
U.S. Marine Corps Captain Andrew Hairston, whose left leg was amputated below the knee following an injury sustained overseas, said WWP activities help service members build confidence and warm-up to new experiences.
“They actually force us to step out of our comfort zone and do things that we typically wouldn’t normally do,” Hairston said. "I mean, how often do you get the opportunity to swim with dolphins?
“Guys who normally don’t swim were hopping in the water to swim with them, so it’s a great opportunity to step out of your comfort zone” he added.
The WWP activities also included a three-day Soldier Ride cycling event across segments of the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. Credit: Florida Keys Bureau via Storyful