On the early morning of August 21st, over 120 plus active military service members, Reservists, and Veterans gathered in front of The Flame of Liberty Veterans Memorial at the Los Gatos Civic Center. They came together with the simple intention of preventing Veterans’ suicide. The Irreverent Warriors Silkies Hike was underway.
Irreverent Warriors is a nonprofit with a mission to bring veterans together using humor and camaraderie to improve mental health and prevent veteran suicide. The vision of Irreverent Warriors is to be the force that unites the Veteran community and drives a healthy culture within its members. Through creative engagements, events, and veteran-based solid support networks, their organization is a catalyst for improving veterans’ outlook. The Veterans Memorial & Support Foundation partnered with Irreverent Warriors to support the endeavor with local community veterans.
Irreverent Warriors organizers kicked off the hike with a talk about why they were there, what Irreverent Warriors represent, and how the organization strives to foster strong connections with fellow Veterans. Following the kickoff, the hike stepped off, heading down the Los Gatos Creek trail.
The element stayed together, with veterans of all ages, some in their silkies, others wearing military gear, and many carrying flags indicative of their service branches. The hike made multiple stops along the way, including Vasona Park, Netflix, and Garret Station, where participants enjoyed the halfway point lunch.
There, Earl Granville, a veteran who lost his leg in Afghanization and suffered the loss of a brother and fellow Veteran from suicide, addressed the group on the importance of driving forward and learning not to carry all the weight on one’s shoulders without asking for help. And these comrades will continue to make each other laugh. One of the perks of the hike is coming together, meeting new people, making new friends, and finding a support system. Following lunch, hikers headed back to The Flame of Liberty Memorial in downtown Los Gatos for the wrap-up.
Medically retired Marine Capt. Donny O’Malley and Irreverent Warriors Founder, who launched the concern in 2015, is also the creator of Vet TV. O’Malley spoke about the importance of making connections with other Veterans and not suffering alone. He encouraged his audience attendees to reach out to other veterans.
“The Irreverent Warriors event went off wonderfully and was beautifully executed,” according to Veterans Memorial & Support Foundation Board Member Wayne Heimsoth.
Veteran U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. David Boston organized the event. David is a veteran warrior in his own right having served for eight years with multiple deployments to Iraq. Sgt. Boston knows first-hand the critical value programs of this kind can deliver, having lost a sister and fellow Veteran to suicide. According to Sgt. Boston, “It was an incredibly humbling experience to have led such an amazing event for Irreverent Warriors whose mission is dear to my heart. I know the event saved lives, and I am looking forward to doing it again.”