Through muggy heat and the beating sun, dozens of local veterans came out to Mission Beach to spend their Saturday walking along San Diego’s coastline, raising awareness for a serious problem.
More than 50 active duty, retired and veterans Marines, Sailors and Soldiers hiked eight miles, carrying 22 kilograms of weight, raising awareness about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and veteran suicide.
“They leave the military and they don't have that brotherhood, and they don't have that comradery, they get really lonely. All of the issues, and all of the demons they have inside, they start to get worse,” said Donny O’Malley with Irreverent Warriors.
The group’s goal is to help combat veterans cope with the things they saw and did in war.
O’Malley, a medically retired Marine Corps infantry officer, said he thinks staying connected and getting together after leaving the military is important for combat veterans.
“The love that we have for each other, the brotherhood and comradery that we experience in combat, is the most intense thing we will ever have,” O’Malley said.
By showing people how much fun they can have on days like today, with fellow veterans, O’Malley said, he hopes to inspire others to host Irreverent Warriors pop-up groups around the country.
“A lot of guys leave the military, they’re away from all their brothers, and no one understands them,” O’Malley said. “But if I can get guys together and if I can inspire little Irreverent Warriors groups to start popping up across the country, then guys who are alone and lonely and in a dark place, will feel supported and loved.”