Career Modalities

This past year, we’ve taken significant strides in advancing our mission at TRP, focusing on leveraging aqua and depth therapy to aid active service members, veterans, and Gold Star families in reintegrating into civilian life. Our Career Modality Program, a cornerstone of our efforts, has been particularly impactful. It aimed to provide comprehensive vocational support, leadership development, and mental wellness benefits through specialized training courses. Our commitment was to address the professional development needs of veterans and first responders, particularly in public safety diving. This field demands a high level of skill and confidence.
Our phased approach included foundational training, advanced program development, and culminating advanced training sessions, benefiting participants by significantly improving their job security, career growth opportunities, and personal well-being. The positive outcomes of this initiative have affirmed the value of our work and set a robust foundation for future growth. As we look forward to expanding our reach and impact in the coming year, we remain dedicated to supporting those who’ve served our country, aiming to serve even more veterans and first responders with enhanced training and support programs.

Health and WellnessFuture project

Building on the success of our Career Modality Program, we are excited to introduce our upcoming Health and Wellness Program, designed to address the holistic needs of our community. Recognizing the challenges our veterans and their families face, we are developing a comprehensive initiative focused on mental resilience, emotional healing, and disconnection from toxic environments. Our program will feature a blend of group-based learning, peer mentorship, trauma-informed yoga, and nature therapy, among other therapeutic activities. Planned retreats, ranging from 3 days to 2 weeks, will offer intensive holistic healing experiences in serene, nature-based destinations. With goals to serve up to 24 veterans and their immediate family members in our first year, we are committed to expanding our support and fostering a community of wellness and recovery. This initiative marks a significant step forward in our mission, aiming to heal invisible wounds through innovative and compassionate approaches.

N.A.S. Thru T.R.P.

            My phone rings and it is a fellow veteran and Tactical Reintegration Project (TRP) member.  He says “Do you want to be part of a cutting-edge pilot program which is the first of its kind in the New England Area?  It will involve classroom and ocean training to explore uncharted wrecks and document them for worldwide Maritime mapping and use.  I think it may be a little too cool for you though” as he laughs. I simply said “Challenge accepted.  Send me the info.”  That phone call began a new chapter in my life that is continuing to be written.  TRP, East Coast Divers, Bridgewater State University, under the Nautical Archaeology Society, launched a program that has instilled in me a higher purpose, deeper sense of camaraderie, and pride. 

            To be able to take the skills I have learned as a scuba diver and apply them for the greater good of maritime mapping and underwater archaeology has been a mission of higher purpose. That is something that I was missing for many years.  It is reinvigorating to focus on something and have an end objective.  The work we put in now will open new dive sites, help understand the past of many cultures that traveled the New England waters, and may open this life-changing opportunity to future members of TRP.  To be a part of it, I am grateful.

Being part of TRP gives me a sense of belonging.  It is intensified with the small, highly skilled team that I am grateful to be part of.  I will not miss a meeting, or any training, for it would hinder out collective efforts and do not want to let any of them down.  It is very similar to peacetime missions in the military.  Being the first of its kind, not only enhances the camaraderie, but also the pride.

There has been a level of pride that is truly uplifting.  It is great to see and hear people’s enthusiasm when we tell them what some of us TRP veterans are embarking on.  For so long, I was missing something that I could take true pride in.  This opportunity has provided a positive mission to fill that void.  I am extremely grateful and proud to be part of such a skilled, motivated, and caring team. 

Our end goal as part of the TRP underwater archaeology team is to be fully self-sufficient.  We want fully trained and experienced veterans teaching and certifying future veterans.  To be part of this has instilled a higher purpose, deeper sense of camaraderie, and pride that was missing for so many years after transiting out of the military. 

Dive Deep for That Inner Peace,

Brian Curran

USMC veteran

For Michael Brandon Jones of Pittsfield, the only time he truly feels at ease is when he holds his breath and dive into the water.  “Transitioning?” he said with a laugh. “I’m still transitioning, and it’s been 10 years.” A five year Marine Corps veteran, Jones 35, still thinks about what he brought back from his tour in Kosovo. It’s where he picked up his love of free-diving, a process of diving without equipment. It’s also where he developed post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. “Your perception changes when you have a weapon pointed at your face,” said Jones, now the seafood manager in Great Barrington. “ You can’t really explain that to anybody, it’s something that you wish you never have to explain. You kind of feel withdrawn because you worry about your reaction.
For Jones and others, PTSD is a result of the nervous system doing its job too well. It’s supercharged the fight-or-flight state, creating associations that might seem innocuous to a civilian, but can produce anxiety in a combat vet.
Jones, said he hopes to bring some relief to others who have PTSD. Training for certification to teach free-diving, he wants to share the therapeutic benefits of the activity with veterans to help with their physical or emotional rehabilitation.
You learn to retrain the mind, and that’s what I did though diving,” Jones said. “I learned to be able to release all that through the water. I’m trying to give [others] an outlet outside of the bottle and the pill.
Yet even as he holds a job and has a family that loves him. Jones said that living with the constant battle-readiness of military life isn’t easy. He said that after five years, that hyper-vigilance almost was part of his DNA.
“It changes you. It hardens you,” he said.” You tend to be a little colder and rigid and more judgmental. You learn to adapt to it to a degree, but this change is forever.

The Berkshire Eagle Sunday, May 22, 2011
Article: When they come home.