It seems nearly impossible for me to start one of these posts from a place other than that of deep gratitude. Our organization is blessed to have the support we recieve from the community. This retreat, as with many of the programs we offer, was only possible through the support of community members, local families, local businesses, various local fire departments and the Spokane Vet Center.
This year we served 25 veterans at our Modern Warrior Retreat, over a third of them are new to are organization, several who have attended a retreat in the past and a few who are now in a support role and showed up to be of service.
Each year this retreat is held in honor of a fallen service member. This year we honored Jacob Hess, Sgt. USMC. Throughout the retreat we carried a guidon honoring Jacob. The guidon was with us from the opening ceremony at Spokane Valley Fire Dept. Station 10 to the closing ceremony at the Spokane Gun Club. The guidon was with us as we laughed, embarrassed ourselves, challenged our fears and even shed some tears while building cohesion. It was there as we learned about Native American Sweat Lodges and how this practice has been used to heal warriors for hundreds of years. It sat watch as we woke our bodies up with a morning yoga sessions. The guidon showed us the direction of the wind as we challenged each other to an archery contest and was there as we played an intense game of kayak polo and explored Deer Lake. It witnessed veterans learning how to make bracelets out of parachord and playing a military version of Speak Out. The guidon was with us as we enjoyed amazing meals prepared by volunteers, firefighters, and board members. It was there as we enjoyed a meal with the Jorgenson family and spent the afternoon boating on Deer Lake. Our guidon stood over us as many of us were humbled during a friendly game of Annie Oakley at the Spokane Gun Club.
Everything this guidon bore witness to was in service of our mission, to bring our nations veterans all the way home. Our guidon has seen a great deal of pain moving toward healing, isolation moving toward connection, fear moving toward hope, and light hearted smiles on faces that are often heavy with the somberness of war.