NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A local lawyer and fireman are coming together to put on an event that is the first of its kind here in Nashville.
The goal is to give back to those who have served our country and are now disabled.
Rob Peal, a retired marine and now partner at Neal and Harwell law firm, got a call from his cousin, Martin Hampton, also a former marine and now local firefighter, a few months ago.
He had an idea of how to give back to those who were injured while or after serving our country.
Peal served in Iraq and Afghanistan and told his cousin why he was interested in helping out.
“I saw a lot of people get hurt, and for whatever reason I didn’t. I feel like have to pay it back. I have to do something for those people that did get hurt,” he explained.
Hampton was introduced to members of T-VAP, the Trident Veteran Adaptive Programs, through his career as a fireman.
“We were all fire and police divers, we went around the country doing body recovery, under water investigation and evidence recovery. Through that, we got introduced to the disabled American veterans and we were doing a scuba program for their winter clinic in Colorado,” he told News 2.
Hampton joined T-VAP and now joins Peal to offer that same scuba diving experience that he worked in Colorado to disabled vets right here in Tennessee. The class is free of charge.
Hampton was able to see first-hand the benefit of the class for disabled veterans.
“We had a guy last year that came. He was a quadriplegic. We got him in the pool, we got his sister in the pool with him, and they were able to throw a missile back and forth at each other. For them to be able to do that is unbelievable.”
Peal realizes many of the injuries these veterans have suffered are catastrophic and life-altering.
“What we want to do is give them a challenge, to let them try something that they could do before they were injured, and to the extent that we can, try and make them feel like they did before they got hurt.”
The guys are able to handle any disability from PTSD to partial or full paralysis.
They will work with veterans who were not only injured in combat but also those who suffered training injuries or post combat accidents.
Hampton is encouraging any disabled veteran to come give scuba a try.
“You’re not just in there just floating around. There’s something that’s going to test you down there. They’re all a different person when they leave. They’re not babied, they’re all treated with respect, and we have a good time,” he told News 2.
The guys are hoping this will turn into an annual event. They’re paying for the event out of their own pockets this year but will look to put together a fundraiser in the spring for next year’s event.
The dive is set for Feb. 3 and 4 at Glencliff Comp High School on Antioch Pike. It will be split up into two sessions from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.
Veterans are encouraged to bring caretakers, and family members to also participate. They’re also looking for any scuba instructors who are willing to volunteer their time to help out.