On a Mission for Peace
May 29, 2019
Up with the sun on the Atlantic coast for a day out on the water offshore fishing. Nothing could be better for six combat wounded veterans to breathe and find a pinch of peace . Captain Rick Sabarese and his son Jason on Brian’s Song, a 50 foot Lydia, provided an opportunity of a simulated mission to conquer the sea in quest of the big one. Unlike so many of the past missions for these combat warriors, this mission came with the comforting knowledge that they would not lose a brother today and they would return home safely, knowing our nations freedoms are still intact as other warriors are still on the front lines continuing the fight.
Sometimes due to changes beyond our control the mission and target must change, adjustments are needed, and a new plan implemented. For our combat wounded men and women this is the case. Now, the daily mission is to stay alive, keep their brothers/sisters alive, find a new purpose, and to be content in a space that is way too slow. The target is now within their own minds, it is aggressive and deadly.
As the day progressed, the mission of catching the big one had to change. The attitudes adjusted and a new plan implemented. Accepting that today the big fish wasn’t biting but the ones that did were beautiful! The jokes and laughter started and the celebration of the catches made became trophies of the day! The new mission, find the joy that surrounded them. Taking comfort in the fact that those now around them had been where they had been in war, they understood the pain, suffering and loss. In this time on the water they learned they were not alone and they now knew more guys like themselves that they could lean on.
Day two put the group out at Quail Creek Plantation for a round of competition shooting sporting clays. Thanks to the great hospitality, we had nothing to worry about except those little orange clays and having fun. For most, not all, of our Veterans, shooting guns is where their comfort zone lies. For a long time their firearm was a part of them like an arm. It was always with them and they were trained to use it wisely. For a combat veteran, a technique of shooting was mastered through target practice all the time, after retiring, a lot of joy comes when they shoot again and know they still have what it takes. A small personal victory, but a victory none the less.
There is so much more to these retreats than just giving the Veterans special treatment and fun exciting things to do. These events provide the veteran with a different perspective and examples of options and tools to combat the devastating thoughts of hopelessness and suicide. These events also restore their faith in the civilian community as they see that people do care about them. The Warrior Bonfire Program relies heavily on our volunteers and donors, on the ground, to make these retreats happen and we make sure our members know who has done what. For the veteran, this level of “Thank you for your service,” truly means a lot and restores faith that their sacrifices were worth it.
Photos by Aaron Allmon