Hanging Up the Camouflage and Putting on a Dry Suit:

Hanging Up the Camouflage and Putting on a Dry Suit:

Veteran Students Transition into Civilian Life at DIT

For the third year in a row, Divers Institute of Technology has received the Military Friendly® School Designation.

It’s a badge of honor for students and staff – over half of the staff are military veterans themselves Over 42 % of the student body is comprised of vets (Jan 2013-June 2015). Some instructors, like Matt Jones, DIT Lightweight and Rigging Instructor, are members of a multi-generational military family.


DIT Veteran Staff. (Not Pictured Bill McGilton, Bruce Banks, Bradley Peterson, Darren Evers)

DIT is one among about 1,400 schools to receive the Military Friendly award. The award takes many school characteristics into consideration such as academic credibility, campus support and military student body composition. DIT has worked hard in all of these areas, guiding post-military students into promising careers as commercial divers.

Military Grade: DIT’s Veteran Recognition & Relationship

Hang up the camouflage and put on a dry suit.


DIT Grad & Veteran, JD Mumford, preparing for a deep dive.

Each year, many military veteran students walk through the doors of Divers Institute of Technology (DIT). They’re looking for a transition to civilian life, and DIT offers just that.

JustinShults (1)

DIT’s Veteran’s Services & Admissions Specialist, Justin Shults, (SSgt, USAF, Flight Engineer)

“Commercial diving provides a familiar environment for veterans – everything from the type of job, to the training style and overall pace of operations is quite similar to military technical schools,” says Justin Shults, DIT’s Admissions & Veterans Services representative. “Additionally, the environment in which these students are completing their training is a lot more ‘vet-friendly’ than your typical four year institution.”

This career move is exactly what many veterans have been looking for, a chance for a fresh start into a career with as much depth as the ocean. James Yates, a DIT graduate from class 103-15 and US Navy veteran, knows the benefits firsthand:

James Yates

“DIT had made the transition comfortable. Their information and help in successfully gaining the necessary paperwork, such as passports and TWIC card, has been tremendous in preparing me for the workforce.”


James Yates in the Classroom between Dives at DIT

Instructors’ Guidance & Military Roots

Though veterans aren’t subject to a Sergeant or Captain, they still take instruction from DIT’s staff.

DIT’s instructors’ methodology bridges the gap between military and civilian life. On one hand, their precision, technical knowledge and emphasis on safety drive the armed services spirit. On the other hand, their compassion demonstrates civilian mentality.

It’s exactly what’s needed for veterans coming from a Navy, Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, or Coast Guard. As John Paul Johnston, DIT Executive Director, says, it’s all about similar experiences.


Executive Director, John Paul Johnston, CDR, Navy

“There’s a commonality between veterans. We all understand what it is to serve. For those of us who have served in combat zones, that commonality is stronger because of some of the experiences we’ve shared. The fact that a lot of our instructors have served in the military at forward operating bases overseas enables them to understand some of the issues that the veteran students are going through. It gives them a basis to work through and to help overcome any obstacles.”

Transition Challenges: Wading into Civilian Life

Veterans carry many memories from their lives in the military. These former experiences can take a psychological toll on individuals. It all depends on the individual and how one works toward improving his or her mental health.

“…and if any doubt exists [in one’s own psychological health], these individuals should consult with qualified medical professionals for guidance,” Boy Kayona, DIT Director of Training, says.

DIT staff are regularly trained on issues veterans deal with, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They take great care to provide a safe learning atmosphere for their veterans.

Former Military Divers: Springboard into Commercial Diving

Some of DIT’s students have actually worked in professional diving before as members of the Military. This work experience gives them additional knowledge of commercial diving equipment and operations.


(Jaret Brown, Bryant Sullivan, & James Murphy) A few of DIT’s Veteran Students from class 102-15 on Dive Station

However, Justin points out that standards between commercial and military diving are different. Military operations are often extremely specific, depending on the mission they’re assigned.

Another distinction exists as well:

“With commercial divers, the primary focus is on tool work and efficiency of operations.  Military divers may not receive as much training as the civilian dive schools provide in underwater tools and salvage operations, however military divers do possess an exceptionally thorough knowledge of dive physics and medicine, as well as diving procedures. They also have a disciplined approach to learning that is highly compatible with the curriculum here at DIT. They often provide a significant amount of leadership in the classroom,” John Paul Johnston says.

And DIT offers a major advantage: It provides certification that’s recognized on an international level. Very few commercial diving schools offer this.

“DIT provides former military divers with a springboard platform to enter the commercial diving industry, and as well as an opportunity to increase and sharpen the skills they’ve already developed,” John Paul Johnston says.

Cost Cut with Post 9/11 GI Bill

Finances have a large role to play in any career transition, as DIT staff and instructors are well aware. With the Post 9/11 GI Bill in full effect, veterans interested in applying to DIT can greatly benefit.


Their housing, diving supplies, books and tuition may all be part of paid expenses.

Veteran financial eligibility ranges from 40% – 100% covered, primarily depending on the cumulative active duty in military service since 9/11. The GI Bill is funded through the United States government.

Thank-you to all who have served in times of war and in times of peace.

Written by Matt Smith, Creator of Water Welders

Upcoming Class Starts
13 Feb
Get Started Today