Q:  What is a Valkyrie Voyage?

A:  A Valkyrie Voyage is a PTSD trauma counseling retreat for Veterans that takes place on a small live aboard throughout the Caribbean. The program is tailored specifically to those with combat PTSD.

Q:  What's included in the Voyage?

A:  Participants will find minimal financial obligation for participating in a Voyage.  Those selected will be provided the following:

  • Airport transfers

  • Quarters on the vessel

  • All meals, snacks, drinks, etc.

  • Required dive equipment, exposure protection, air fills, and weights

  • Taxes, fees, and crew gratuities

  • Select dive training for those selected

  • Approximately 30 hours of trauma and resiliency counseling


Q:  What's NOT included in the Voyage?

A:  Voyage participants will be required to purchase their own round-trip airfare to Nassau, Bahamas.  Participants can either purchase it outright or we will can show them how to do an individual fundraiser through Facebook for Deep Sea Valkyries to cover or offset a portion of the cost depending on the success of their fundraiser. Those with a more severe financial need may apply through our partner program for assistance in covering their airfare. Please note that funding is NOT guaranteed. More information will be provided to the participant if requested. General items not covered may or may not pertain to an individual.  This is a common list of items not covered however sound judgment should be used by an applicant in determining financial obligations and ability to participate.  Participation is not covered under the Soldier Sailor Relief Act and we encourage participants to notify their employers and family to ensure there is no conflict in participating.  General items NOT covered include (but are not limited to):

  • Airfare to and from Nassau, Bahamas

  • Passport fees

  • Clothing / luggage for the trip

  • Souvenirs purchased from a dive operation or while ashore

  • Meals en-route in airports

  • Purchase of transportation home due to removal from program for falsification of application or violation of code of conduct

  • Fees imposed due to deliberate destruction or damage to property

  • Individual travel insurance (dive insurance)

  • Reimbursement for money spent without prior written approval

  • Anything else not expressly written in participant agreement upon notification of selection.


Q:  How long are Voyages?

A:  Voyages are approximately one week.  We hope to offer both longer and shorter retreats in other areas as funding becomes available


Q:  Who is eligible to participate?

A:  Voyages are designed as a time for healing with fellow Veterans only.  Applications are open to dual military couples and Veterans of all conflict eras.


Q:  What is expected out of each participant?

A:  A Code of Conduct will accompany each application that outlines expectations and consequences for gross violations.  As these trips are designed to foster continued healing, we conduct our group sessions as either one group or several small groups.  Topics are chosen ahead of time and participants are encouraged to discuss their thoughts. Above all, mutual respect for one another and the utmost respect for the crew is paramount to ensure continued adventures.  Further details will be provided to participants.


Q:  Do I have to know how to swim?

A:  While you don’t need to be Michael Phelps, a general knowledge of how to swim is required to complete your SCUBA certification and ultimately participate.  Our Valkyries experience a number of dive scenarios over the course of the week to include drift dives and must be able to swim across and against currents.


Q:  Are you required to be Scuba Dive certified to apply for the Voyage?

A:  No you are not required to be certified prior to applying however, the trips are designed around Scuba Diving.  Those selected to participate, we will (to the best of our ability) work with a shop local to the Veteran that will conduct training prior to the retreat. Understand that many shops donate portions of the training and the Veteran is required to conduct their training on the dates provided to them by the shop or forfeit their place on the retreat. Those not certified but who are looking to get certified before applying may request to be sponsored to conduct dive training prior to the trip.  Our partners at Patriots for Disabled Divers (PFDD) have affiliate shops across the US and may be able to coordinate training prior to the retreat.  That application must be made directly through PFDD and is dependent on the funds available for training. Those already certified or those wishing to conduct additional training during the trip may request so prior to departure.  Our certified instructors and leaders will be happy to accommodate whenever possible.


Q: Can Deep Sea Valkyries certify divers?

A: Yes; for those in the greater Phoenix area, we will provide dive training to those selected as part of your selection process (if required).  We certify through the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) and your certification is recognized worldwide as a recreational scuba diver. If a participant is outside the Phoenix area and not certified prior to applying, we will arrange for you to conduct training with a local dive shop prior to your travel.


Q:  What personal items you need to bring?

A:  This varies based on the trip, operation, location, and duration.  Each trip will provide a FAQ sheet specific to that trip which will provide more details.  Generally speaking, there is little in terms of clothing, some hygiene items and personal medication, and your sense of adventure!


Q:  Why did we chose Scuba Diving and other water based activities?

A:  As US Military combat Veterans, we understand the struggles many face returning home.  Scuba diving has always been how we have found peace and the healing power of being weightless under the water is un-paralleled in our minds.  Diving also transcends most levels of injury/disability giving our Veterans a freedom of movement many have not experienced since their injury. We hope to foster the love of diving among other Veterans, to provide a release for their frustrations, and build camaraderie.


Q:  What is the application process (how do I apply)?

A:  The process begins with completing and submitting a Voyage application which will be available on our website during the submission window.  We highly encourage the applicant be as thorough as possible and submit as soon as the submission window opens.  This will allow us to review and request additional information or documentation as needed before the packet goes before a selection board.  Primaries will be selected along with alternates.  Each will be notified and the administrative process will continue until departure.  It is critical that each selected participant be prompt in replying to requests for information. A general timeline is as follows:

  • January 1st:       Application submission window opens

  • January 31st:     Application submission window closes

  • February 1-15:   Applications reviewed and board selection

  • Late February:   Participants selected and notified

  • March - April:     Dive training for those not already certified. Documents and travel packets built; participants must provide proof of airline itinerary NLT 15APR20

  • May - June:        Administrative details finalized; final travel info sent out


Q:  How are participants selected?

A:  Applications are received and then sterilized prior to moving on to the selection committee.  Discriminating information is redacted from applications and packets are sent to a 5 person board for selection.  While we do our best to accommodate all applicants, the reality is that we are selecting individuals to participate in an activity which requires some self-reliance and a certain level of physical ability.  Those with physical disabilities will be considered in the board process but we may request details on the nature of injuries or disabilities to ensure your safety during the trip.  Disclosure of medical information is completely voluntary but withholding of information may result in disqualification and application removal.


Q:  Can we take a service dog on the trip?

A:  Unfortunately, per regulations of the vessel being used we are unable to accommodate Veterans with service animals. We are on smaller vessels with limited space and once we leave port on our voyage we do not return until the voyage conclusion. We are, however, able to facilitate local dive training opportunities here in the greater Phoenix area. If interested in learning how to dive, we encourage you to contact us and we would love to discuss different options.


Q:  Can a spouse/caregiver also attend?

A:  There are many wonderful organizations that offer marriage retreats for Veterans and their caregivers.  Deep Sea Valkyries participation is limited to the Veteran only, however, we do encourage dual military couples to apply. Please understand that there is no guarantee that both will be selected to participate.


Q:  Are there any automatic medical dis-qualifiers?

A:  Unfortunately yes. Some are based on the type of vessel being used. While some ships can accommodate those in wheelchairs others require you to be able to move up and down ladders under uncertain weather circumstances.  At this time, the boats we are able to utilize cannot accommodate wheelchairs.   Those who suffer from seizures will also be unlikely to get a medical waiver however your doctor will be able to determine for sure.  Those who are not yet certified will be required to fill out a medical statement prior to beginning their training. If the participant answers “Yes” to any of the questions on the statement, they will have to meet with their primary care physician so that a dive physical can be conducted to determine if the Veteran is able to participate. It is the responsibility of the Veteran to complete the medical statement in a timely fashion after notification of selection because training will not be conducted without it. We wish all Veterans had the opportunity to participate but safety is our utmost priority and may dictate certain restrictions.


Q:  I have a prescription for CBD to manage pain, can I bring it?

A:   No. While certain states issue medicinal marijuana cards and some doctors are beginning to prescribe CBD to Veterans as an alternative to opioids, when traveling internationally it is still an illegal substance. Nassau has incredibly strict laws and if the products are found in your luggage at customs and immigration when entering the country, you run the risk of being taken into custody and there is nothing we can do to help. All participants are given this information during their initial screening so they have the opportunity to make other arrangements with their PCP.


Q:  Is PTSD a disqualifier?

A:  No, PTSD is not an automatic disqualifier, in fact our counseling sessions focus primarily on that topic.  The majority of the sessions are centered around combat related trauma so participants who have not experienced combat may not feel as though many of the sessions pertain to them. As stated above, disclosure of medical information is voluntary however failure to be honest in the application may result in removal from the program at any time even if selected.

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