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Bonaire honors US military veterans

(DiverWire) Tourism Corporation Bonaire and the entire island will welcome a group of “Wounded Warriors” next month. The group will be scuba diving for rehabilitation and recreation from August 18-25, 2012. This is the seventh year that Bonaire, one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world, will be hosting a group of U.S. military veterans.

During this week, severely wounded soldiers and their significant others will travel to the island to complete the final step in the process of obtaining their dive certifications. Representatives of the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association’s (DEMA’s) Be A Diver Program, the North American office of Tourism Corporation Bonaire and the Handicapped Scuba Association (HSA) will also be on-site in Bonaire. All accommodations and diving will be provided courtesy of Captain Don’s Habitat Bonaire. Each year, the people of Bonaire warmly welcome this group and show them not only the natural beauty and pristine waters of the island, but also the friendliness and genuine hospitality of the Bonairean people.

“It’s certainly appropriate that these warriors are coming to Bonaire to scuba dive. The fantastic reefs and marine life found on our island help create an unforgettable experience,” commented Anja Romeijnders, President of Tourism Corporation Bonaire. “As a scuba diver myself, I know the excitement I feel after a dive. I’m pleased that Bonaire is able to help these impressive soldiers experience that same feeling and always remember Bonaire. It’s one way we can thank them all for their efforts and sacrifices,” Anja Romeijinders continued.

This year’s contingent of ten Wounded Warriors has suffered life-changing physical injuries received in combat while stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They and their partners will be kept busy with a variety of activities beginning with the completion of their PADI and HSA dive certifications, which will take place on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Once certified, they will continue diving throughout the week, both from the dock of Captain Don’s Habitat and via boat dives to Klein Bonaire and other famous Bonaire dive sites. The group will also enjoy sightseeing, shopping, dining, a beach BBQ and an authentic Texas-style BBQ. The highlight of the week will take place when the Bonaire community gathers to meet these extraordinary troops and their companions at a reception held in their honor with Bonaire’s first female Lt. Governor, the Honorable Lydia Emerencia.

Bonaire is the recipient of the prestigious Islands Magazine/Caribbean Tourism Organization 2008 Sustainable Tourism Award and continues to be recognized as one of the top destinations worldwide for its sustainable tourism practices. It was designated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as having the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean (January 2008) and in 2011, Bonaire was voted one of the top five Snorkeling Destinations in the Caribbean by the editors of Caribbean Travel & Life. For 19 consecutive years, Bonaire has been selected as the number one Shore Diving destination in the Caribbean/Atlantic in Scuba Diving Magazine’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards. This year, it was voted one of the Best Destinations Overall, number one for Marine and Macro life, and number one for Snorkeling also in the Reader’s Choice Awards.

For more information on Bonaire, contact the Tourism Corporation Bonaire in the U.S. at 1-800-BONAIRE or visit Bonaire’s official web site at www.tourismbonaire.com. Follow Bonaire on Twitter and Facebook.