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A September to Remember: Lots of work and a Special Dedication

During the month of September Monterey Bay Veterans (MBV) provided the ADA requirement at four major area venues, including Laguna Seca, the Monterey County Fair, Monterey Jazz Festival and the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach.  We then kicked off October with the Annual Cod Derby with hundreds of participants from all over the state.

MBV concluded this very busy September with the unveiling of the one of a kind dive boat Freedom, featuring the Lift 2 Freedom submersible dive platform.  On September 27th we celebrated the dedication of MBV vessel Freedom into service.  This boat is the crown jewel of the Freedom Dive Program,  a collaborative project of MBV, Degnan Divers, Presidio of Monterey Outdoor Recreation and Breakwater SCUBA.  The unveiling followed two ocean dives aboard Freedom by Dave Riley, National Commander of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).  Dave, who inspired the Freedom program, is a Coast Guard veteran and quad amputee.  The official announcement took place at a dedication ceremony attended by local and national dignitaries including representatives from DAV at State and National levels, state and local government officials, local military commands, the Veterans Administration and other Veteran Service Organizations.

MBV wishes to thank all of our great volunteers, without whom it would be impossible for MBV to deliver on all its commitments of service to our disabled veterans.   In addition to the “normal” cycle of Physically Challenged access and the many fishing opportunities, dozens of volunteers put in thousands of hours repairing, refurbishing and modifying Freedom to prepare her for a new life.  We also want to thank the many donors whose products and services helped bring the Freedom dream to reality.

Freedom was officially put into service with this prayer:

“Almighty God we gather here today to dedicate this vessel to a new life of service to our Veterans, who have served and sacrificed to ensure for us the gift for which she is named,……. “Freedom”.  We ask for your blessing on “Freedom”, those who prepared her for service and all who will serve aboard her, that she may always be a source of healing and happiness.  Amen”

Freedom Dive Program is waiting for you

Monterey Bay Veterans and Degnan’s Divers have collaborated to create the Freedom Dive Program for challenged divers.  We believe it to be the most comprehensive program of its type in the world.   We are now waiting for you to literally take the plunge and fulfill your dreams of underwater adventure.

Some of the divers in Frank Degnan’s classes, and many challenged recreational divers, for whom diving from shore or utilizing standard dive boat operations would be difficult or impossible, have been in need of a method to safely and comfortably dive.

Monterey Bay Veterans has been working on the solution.  The Dive Boat Freedom has completed its refurbishment, repairs and customization.  It is now ready to assist student  and certified challenged divers to participate in some of the best diving in the world.  The key component, the Lift to Freedom submersible dive platform, allows safe and comfortable deployment and retrieval of divers regardless of their disability challenge.

We invite you to read more under the programs tab of this site and view the video describing the entire Freedom program and the dive boat Freedom here:

Not too late to volunteer for A.T.T. ProAm

Hey golf fans.  There is still time to register as a volunteer for the spectacular A.T.T. ProAm at Pebble Beach.  Simply go to the A.T.T. ProAm site, find the volunteer page and register.  We particularly need volunteers for spectator transportation.  Monterey Bay Veterans is a key provider of both Special needs and Spectator Transportation services.  For every hour volunteered Monterey Bay Veterans receives funding to help support our disabled veteran service programs.  So, go on line now and register.  you will have a wonderful time and support a great cause.

Spring SCUBA class dates announced

The spring SCUBA training class is set to begin On April 10, 2016 at the California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) Aquatic Center.    These classes are presented through a collaboration of Degnan Divers and Monterey Bay Veterans, with support from other governmental and non-governmental service organizations.

Mission: To provide access to specialized dive instruction and recreational ocean diving for all veterans and military, who would be uncomfortable with, or have a low probability of success, in a traditional diving class.

Target Population:

  1. Veterans with special needs of any type including physical, emotional or cognitive.
  2. Family members or care givers interested in SCUBA in order to assist in the veteran’s success.


  1. Provide SCUBA training and certification at little or no cost to the veterans beyond their travel and accommodations. This is accomplished by utilizing services, facilities and other physical assets provided by Monterey Bay Veterans and Degnan Divers.
  2. Provide a safe and accommodating learning and activities environment for the special needs dive student.
  • The academic content of the course will be covered in traditional lecture/discussion, online or a combination of both.
  • The pool environment at CSUMB emphasizes one on one instruction and provides the students with the ability to learn at their own pace.
  • On the water safety and comfort is provided in Monterey Bay by using MBV’s specially modified 60 foot dive boat, the “Freedom”. Visit MBV.org to learn more about this one of a kind dive vessel and the Lift to Freedom (L2F) submersible dive platform.
  • The opportunity is available to participate in regularly scheduled “pool only” SCUBA activities for those not interested in certification or ocean diving.


  1. The seven week training will be one day a week (Sunday) for four to five hours.
  2. The next class is scheduled to begin April 10, 2016
  3. The classroom and pool training begins at 8:00 am at the California State University Aquatic Center. Ocean dives will be scheduled for the final three Sundays, conditions permitting.

Application and registration:

  1. Applications and other required forms may be found at the web site: MBV.org under Freedom Dive Program. This documentation can also be received in hard copy by calling Bill Reisig at 831-423-7728. Completed forms may be e-mailed to wcreisig@comcast.net.


Questions may be directed to Bill Reisig at 831-423-7728 or Frank Degnan at 831-277-1705.

Ring out 2015, bring in 2016

Greetings all and Happy New Year.  2015 turned out to be a year of challenges and great accomplishments.

Our mission expanded in both numbers served and programs offered in 2015.  MBV served thousands of veterans through the fishing programs, SCUBA training, Northern tour and growing Physically Challenged Access program.  In addition to the above, dedicated volunteers addressed and completed over one hundred projects on the custom dive boat “Freedom”, with it’s one of a kind Lift to Freedom “L2F” dive platform, bringing this one of a kind project to operational status. These very successes created challenges in organization and resources.

Milestones were also established with the expansion of our partnerships and cooperative efforts with other organizations dedicated to serving those to whom we owe so much.

None of this would be possible without our dedicated corps of volunteers, members, donors and sponsors.  Thanks to you all and to the officers and 2015 board of directors for your dedication, leadership and contributions.

We experienced both joy and loss in 2015.  The first with the marriage of our favorite Army Airborne Veteran Jeanne Paynter, nee Obrien, to now husband Chris on board the Independence to start the New Year, and the latter with the loss of longtime volunteer, Board member and “Independence” Boat Director Tom Paltz.  We said good bye to Tom with full military honors and spreading of his ashes from the deck of the Independence onto the Monterey Bay; the place where he was most happy. He is missed.

2016 is promising even more. I am happy to announce the 2016 Board of Directors and several new Operational Director positions.

Introducing the 2016 Board of Directors: Bill Reisig, C.J. Von Drehle, Pat McCoy, Kimberly Stuhler, Anthony Russo, James Bogan, and two new Directors for 2016 Jeanne Paynter, John Knight

In addition to the existing Operational Directors; John Whitacre (Executive Director), Kirk Johnson (Veterans Relations), Diane Whitacre (Membership), Bill Reisig (Freedom Boat Director and Freedom Dive Program) and Gary Crawford (Volunteers), a couple of new key Operational Director positions are now filled:

Director, Northern California Operations:  Michael Steinbaugh

Director, Information Systems:  John Knight

This team will be leading Monterey Bay Veterans through an exciting 2016, which will include the rechristening and dedication of the vessel “Freedom”.

Be sure to check the calendar for upcoming events and volunteer opportunities  (The A.T.T. Pro-Am is just around the corner).  Plan early and make your travel and lodging arrangements for the Derbies and SCUBA classes.

In order to fulfill our objectives for the year we are counting on being able to expand our volunteer roles and filling several remaining Operational Director positions.  If you have time to dedicate to the mission of service to our disabled veterans, especially if you have boating and/or project management experience, please contact us to discuss the opportunities available.

As always, all members and guests are welcome at our board meetings, which are held on the last Tuesday of each month at the Monterey Youth Center at 5:00 pm.  We hope to see you there.

Here’s to another banner year in 2016.

Heart felt thank you

We at Monterey Bay Veterans, and especially the Freedom team, have truly been blessed by the level of support we receive from the business community.

The Freedom dive boat project, conceived and constructed to provide  SCUBA diving accommodation and safety to our disabled veteran community would not have been possible without the generosity of the business community.

The three most recent contributors are Monterey Bay Marine, Pernsteiner & Sons Fabrication and Process Stainless Lab.

Thank you Dave Babica of Monterey Bay Marine for your help in acquiring affordable outboard solutions for our dive safety boat aboard Freedom and utility and safety boat on Independence.

Another crucial system, to ensure safe anchoring  operations, was provided by the combined effort of Perry Settlemoir at  Pernsteiner & Sons for building the complex stainless reinforcement  system for Freedom and David Diller and David Hays of Process Stainless Lab for plating/polishing services, which turned a crucial  operations necessity into an aesthetic show piece.

It is truly inspiring to see the level of support and commitment the business community has for our disabled veterans.    On behalf of Monterey Bay Veterans Executive Board, its membership, volunteers and especially the disabled veteran community.  Thank you!!



Next SCUBA class dates set

Monterey Bay Veterans and Degnan Divers are pleased to announce the schedule for the next SCUBA training classes.

The mission of this program is to provide access to specialized dive instruction and recreational ocean diving for all veterans and military, who would be uncomfortable with or have a low probability of success in a traditional diving class.  Discussions are underway on possible expansion of program efforts.   New information will be posted on this site as available.

Classroom and pool sessions will be held on September 6, 13, 27 and October 4.  A minimum of two ocean dive sessions are scheduled for October 18 and 25, weather and seas permitting.   The specialized dive vessel Freedom equipped with its one of a kind submersible dive platform “Lift to Freedom”, will be available for the ocean dives as needed.

See Freedom Dive Program tabs on this site for additional information and required forms.

Feel free to contact Bill Reisig, Monterey Bay Veterans President (831-423-7728, or Frank Degnan, Degnan Divers 831-277-1705 for further information or with questions.


ABBA Industries to the rescue

Monterey Bay Veterens extends our sincere thanks to ABBA Industries,Inc/RC Plath, Co.

History; We thought we were up against a big problem when our specialty  dive boat for physically challenged  veterans, “Freedom”, suffered the loss of major components of the anchoring system.  To make a long story short, after searching for information on the identity of our system, we approached ABBA Industries with our problem.  Without a moments hesitation, ABBA wrote back to us that they could in fact replace  the failed parts,  but added that they would be honored to provide them and some additional services at no cost.

As a non-profit, this kind of support is a tremendous help to us in maintaining  our rehabilitation programs at no cost to our disable veterans.  We thank and salute ABBA Industries for the support they have provided to those who served and sacrificed for us.


2015 Wheelchair salmon derby is in the books

For the past three weeks over 300 disabled veterans from all around the state sought salmon in the waters off the Central Coast in the 28th annual Monterey Bay Veterans – Wheelchair Salmon Derby.  Thanks to many local captains and support from the Coastside Fishing Club the search for this year’s winning fish covered fishing grounds from Monterey all the way to Half Moon Bay

The derby culminated with Derby Week End.  Festivities began Friday night with a welcoming dinner hosted by the Marina American Legion, followed by Saturday’s main event with hundreds of hopeful  veterans, along with Miss California Rodeo, Jynel Gularte, boarding three party boats and dozens of private vessels to brave the less than ideal conditions for their shot at the title. Saturday’s awards banquet at the Seaside American Legion Hall marked the finale of Monterey Bay Veterans’ 2015 wheelchair salmon derby.  In the end James De la Pena of Hollister took the top prize with a cleaned fish weight of 17  pounds 9 ounces.

There are just too many people and organizations to thank in this small space, but all should know that Monterey Bay Veterans cherishes our sponsors and volunteers and we extend our sincere thanks for your support in helping make this event an annual success story.  We must give special recognition to The Department of California, D.A.V., whose sponsorship makes our annual derbies possible.