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Wounded army veterans find a new purpose in helping scientists save coral reefs

A group of veterans' newfound purpose in life is to save coral reefs and help the climate crisis slow down.

Wounded army veterans find a new purpose in helping scientists save coral reefs
Cover Image Source: YouTube | CBS News

Earth is becoming more and more polluted and potentially uninhabitable by the second. Air quality is depreciating, natural resources seem to be depleting and the weather is extremely temperamental. In times like these, one can safely say climate change is real. The best way to fight it is to take safety measures and right our wrongs. There's a group doing just that - saving corals, one reef at a time!

Image Source: Pixabay/Marcelo Kato
Representative Image Source: Pixabay/Marcelo Kato

Did you know? Coral reefs are dying at an alarming rate worldwide. According to Planetary Coral Reef Foundation, an estimated 25% of coral reefs have already disappeared and an estimated two-thirds of all coral reefs are at risk. To combat this pressing issue one step at a time, a project for the restoration of coral reefs has begun in the Florida Keys.

Veterans and others carry a large American Flag while marching in the nation's largest Veterans Day Parade in New York City on November 11, 2016. Cover Photo Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Image Source: Getty Images/Spencer Platt

The best part? Wounded US Army veterans are being enlisted to restore the coral reefs of the Florida Keys, giving them a new mission and purpose in life. Veterans often feel common despair owing to a sense of purposelessness. This work under the waves is allowing them to combat that sense, as well as putting them in an environment where their battle wounds aren't as impeding.

The work is a collaboration between the non-profit Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge (CWVC) and Mote Marine Laboratory. Every year for seven days, a team of veterans comes down to help Michael Crosby "re-skin" coral reefs below the waves off the southern tip of California. He has been successfully breeding corals of specific phenotypes that showcase patience, tolerance and resilience to increasing temperatures and more acidic water since that might just be the case in the next 50 years as the climate changes.

This year's work saw a team of 31 veterans seed a total of 1040 new corals in a reef called Higgs Head, which makes the total number of such reefs planted by the Mote Laboratory over 200,000. First, they go down to clean the dead or dying corals of algae, and then they use epoxy resin to glue the lab-grown corals.


Army veteran Billy Costello, 41, told Good News Network: "They have been instrumental in my recovery, helping me learn what I was going to be able to do after losing my leg. It’s great for the heart and the soul, especially when you’re around a group of veterans that have gone through very similar situations and have beat the odds and recovered in such a positive way. It is such a blessing."


All said and done, the solidarity of being surrounded by people who've experienced pain the way you have is unmatched. These soldiers know their woes and understand their reasons. Most importantly, they can empathize with each other. To find a relationship like that so late in life after going through so much is nothing short of a blessing. That is a bond that cannot be easily broken. Then, to have the heart to utilize that same solidarity into making the world a better place for everyone - that is beyond beautiful!!

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