Media, News & Insights

Restoring Marine Habitats and Veterans' Health with FORCE BLUE

January 27, 2020


On January 27th, 2020, FORCE BLUE joined forces with American military veteran divers alongside scientists from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to restore a football field-length stretch of coral reef off the coast of Key Biscayne in Florida. The video documenting the project, aptly titled "100 Yards of Hope," initially stemmed from a partnership effort with the NFL Green, Verizon, and aforementioned scientific partners—to revitalize Florida's coral reefs in advance of Super Bowl LIV hosted by the state.

"SEALs and scientists fighting the same fight. It is that collaboration and commitment we hope will inspire others to pitch in and protect this national treasure," said Jim Ritterhoff, FORCE BLUE's Executive Director and Co-Founder. Today, FORCE BLUE is the only nonprofit organization in the world that retrains and redeploys former Special Operations veterans and military-trained combat divers to assist in marine conservation efforts.

The organization's origins date back to 2015 when co-founders Jim Ritteroff, Rudy Reyes, and Keith Sahm joined on a mission to unite veterans and marine conservationists for the betterment of both. Today, the nonprofit is the only organization providing "mission therapy" to aid former combat divers like Reyes, who suffered from depression and PTS after serving several tours in Iraq and overseas.

Since its inception, the nonprofit has retrained and retooled over a hundred elite, highly-skilled operators, paired them with the nation's top marine scientists and preservationists, and deployed them to service dozens of marine habitats globally. Recently, the organization launched an Ocean Conservation School for Gold Star families to train them in diving and marine biology.

Fortress Managing Director David Moson proudly supports FORCE BLUE, and currently serves on the organization's financial board. An avid diver, Moson knows firsthand FORCE BLUE's impact, having contributed to the team's restoration efforts, diving alongside the co-founders at the 100 Yards of Hope site.

"I am very proud to support FORCE BLUE, "said Moson. "As the son of a US Navy officer, it's a privilege to contribute to an organization making the lives of veterans and our planet better, together."