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Female veterans help National Park Service conduct underwater surveys in Channel Islands

Channel Islands National Park
Three female veterans help conduct underwater surveys at Channel Islands National Park.

VENTURA, Calif. - Three women veterans of our Armed Services are assisting the National Park Service (NPS) for a week to conduct shipwreck surveys at the Channel Islands National Park.

The veterans are part of an all-female NPS and NOAA dive team that includes a marine biologist, archaeologist, boat captain, dive instructor and submerged resources expert.

National Park Services said the veterans served in the U.S. Army and Navy and are sponsored by the Wounded American Veterans Experience SCUBA (WAVES).

WAVES is a program whose goal is to help veterans recover from combat and non-combat related trauma including PTSD.

"The NPS and WAVES have been working together for several years to support injured veterans," said Channel Islands National Park Superintendent Ethan McKinley. "We are honored to provide these veterans an opportunity to heal and to experience the spectacular kelp forests at Channel Islands National Park."

Gina Harden, a veteran who started her U.S. Navy career as the 7th female Military Deep Sea Diver, will be a support diver. Bonnie Casler and Alexandria McIntyre are both U.S. Army veterans and will be novice divers as they dive at the Channel Islands for the first time.

Casler, a retired Army Master Sergeant for 22 years said, "It's the calm underwater, the bubbles, the peace and quiet, that I haven't felt in years."

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Jessica Brest

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