At a time when the presidential election is dividing families and friends, at least one issue is bridging the gap: giving veterans of the U.S. military a new lease on life by teaching them how to restore coral reefs. And they are trying to enlist big business as their ally. 

Indeed, the marriage of the ocean’s ecology along with those who have served their nation is breathing a new spirit into the coral reefs, which make up a whole community of living organisms that survive on the ocean floor. Those reefs aren’t just a thing of beauty. They are also an economic engine, spawning entire enterprises that range from tourism to medicine, including the making of drugs that deal with cancer, arthritis and bacterial infections.

“Our guys are special forces who are physically strong but who are also struggling,” says Jim Ritterhoff, founder of Force Blue that combines the virtues of military training with coral reef restoration. “Coral reefs are the rain forest of the ocean and our guys learn how to how to heal damaged areas. They can then proselytize on behalf of coral reef conservation.”

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Image courtesy of Force Blue