Navy Diver Veteran Thomas McConnell was raised in Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana and he is the owner of 15 Fathoms Deep Sea Apparel. He used to swim competitively as a freestyle swimmer and it was really the one sport that he gravitated to. He found out about the Navy diver program and knew that’s what he wanted to do. It took him about seven months to get in shape for it, but he put in the work and got into shape.

When he showed up to dive school, they let them know that they would weed half of them out, but he was determined to make it to the end. Just as they predicted half the team washed out and they graduated with 16 after starting with 36.

After graduation, he ended up getting orders to Hawaii to be a part of a salvage unit. When ships come in to foreign ports, they hop in deep sea waters on scuba then checks and clears the piers so the sailors are clear to come in.

He spent 8 years in the Navy and when he got back in San Diego and doing a routine working dive, he lost feeling in his legs and started having a lot of neurological symptoms. This diving incident in December 2017 gave him some vestibular issues, a little bit of brain trauma, and found out that he had an unruptured brain aneurysm. He could not move on so he went on a medical retirement. He retired on December 28, 2019 and moved to Canada with his wife.

In this episode, Sgt. BeReal talks to Thomas about his transition out of the Navy, his medical and mental condition, and his business. They also discussed how moving to Canada affected his ongoing treatment and life because a lot of VA benefits don’t extend overseas.

Key Points:

  • Medically Retired
  • Moved to Canada where his wife is from
  • A lot of VA benefits don’t extend overseas
  • His Mental Health Struggle
  • Became his Wife’s Medical Plan Dependent in Canada
  • Wife as his Therapist
  • Doing your homework before you get out, develop a business plan
  • Surround yourself with the correct people
  • Printful Business
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Episode 17