Early Spring 2021 – NAUI announced an “Armed Forces” program designed for veterans by veterans.
Launched May 1st, this innovative industry first, in conjunction with a VA benefits program and the US Government, affords the active-duty service member and the retired military person opportunities to utilize the G.I. Bill® to pay for many of NAUI’s scuba certifications and licenses at qualified NAUI dive Centers throughout the globe. For those interested in learning to dive, improve diving skills, and/or wishing to become a dive professional, the program to date has proven exceptionally well received amongst NAUI Affiliates and NAUI Members around the world, and those supporting US Armed Forces personnel. Service members who qualify can be financially reimbursed up to 100% for scuba diver certifications and licensing testing fees.
One example of how this program has generated excitement leading to new business, creative co-teaching relationships, and productive marketing collaborations between NAUI Members while servicing the needs and desires of our Armed Forces personal, can be seen in Florida. NAUI Regional Representative Andy Olday #58352 and VA Program Director Ray Reneau #61794, shortly following launch day, began working with NAUI Course Director and Professional Educator Affiliate, Billy Walls, NAUI#59902L (Indian Creek Scuba) in Panama City Beach, Florida to help maximize the potential of the program. Initially a cooperative agreement between Billy’s program and two NAUI approved VA Testing sites, Vortex Springs (https://www.vortexspring.com) and Panama City Dive Center (https://www.pcdivecenter.com) immediately the three entities were able to provide a consistent balance between a credentialed dedicated professional, a premier land based training center and a coastal operation with multiple dive charter vessels servicing the tropical waters of the Gulf Of Mexico to divers in the Florida Panhandle region and beyond.
Soon after the initial collaboration developed, a new NAUI partnership blossomed in Discovery World SCUBA (https://www.discoverydiveworld.com) located in Destin, Florida, a veteran owned and operated NAUI Platinum Pro Dive Center Affiliate, and they joined the established trio of NAUI businesses. These four operators, sharing a common goal and NAUI Course Director have developed into a solid and hopefully “Golden Triangle” for training those who qualify wishing to pull from G.I. Bill® funding to expand knowledge and NAUI credentials in the Northwest Florida area.
One service member, (the first Instructor graduate), to benefit from this cooperative operation is Justin Green, NAUI #62917, who recently completed his training while simultaneously participating in another NAUI and military partnership named The SkillBridge program. Justin spent eight years as and EOD Navy diver. Justin engaged in Navy Dive training in Panama City, EOD training at Eglin AFB, Ft. Walton, Florida, and has been deployed all over the world. He is choosing the Dive Industry as his next career path and is a working example of the ideal candidate to use earned G.I. Bill® benefits to become a qualified and working NAUI Instructor. Congratulations Justin