The Warrior Bonfire Program not only caught some big fish but more importantly caught some big smiles! All rigged up and ready for serious fishing this crew of Purple Heart Veterans did not disappoint. Aboard the beautifully and newly repainted Brain's Song vessel this group was given one on one deep sea fishing instruction and tips on how to reel them in. Captain and crew offered undivided attention, equipment, and lunch, which made the day perfect.
Having the opportunities on board to talk, breathe in some of nature's finest views, relax using some of the greatest treatment methods out there, and throwing in some excitement while pulling in a big fish, provides renewed joy, hope, and drive. An event like this may seem like just another day in the life for some but for men like these it can be a lifeline.
Taking in every opportunity, post realization of your own mortality, reminds you that daily struggles are all worth it. Every moment is a gift and a choice to see it as a gift. Our modern day heroes are getting these opportunities more and more, but it is still not near enough. This trip, we chose to open our door to a Vietnam Veteran with a Purple Heart as we had room at the last minute due to a cancellation of a post 9/11 Purple Heart. We wanted to see how the two generations mixed and mingled. Learning from those that have been living the journey for a long time is incredibly useful to the younger ones, but the outing proved something larger for this Vietnam Purple Heart Veteran, "The weekend was AWESOME! Thank you! It was one of the nicest thing I have got for my service in Vietnam since I came home," stated Richard Debevec.
Learning to cope and move forward every day is ACHIEVABLE!
At the Bonfire, we stop to remember, honor and pay tribute to the men and women our Purple Hearts have lost. Although a Bonfire can take place almost anywhere, the proper retirement of the American Flag is always held with respect and follows the process set by Congress. For a Purple Heart this part of our weekend gives them the chance to keep close those they lost, either during the time of their injury or after they were sent back home to heal. Survivors guilt is extremely difficult to manage and takes a tremendous amount of time and conversations till they find peace. One Bonfire cannot fully complete the process but it does in fact help to find normalization which in turn buys time for true healing.
On our last day in beautiful sunny Stuart, Florida we tried our skills and talents out on paddle boards! Thanks to the folks at Treasure Coast Paddle & Watersports for a guided tour and instructions.
The more we connect civilians to the military community, the more understanding there is and the better the foundation is set for future generations. There is so much that the average American civilian citizen doesn't understand about the lives our service members lead, pre and post war. "Every American citizen and every American company should be supporting a Veteran Care organization in appreciation to their selfless service.," Dan Fordice, founder of the Warrior Bonfire Program.
We would like to thank a few of the other local businesses that helped us put on a fantastic weekend in and around Stuart, Florida. Outback Steakhouse fed us well as did Castaways. West Marine set us up with a soft cooler for each Purple Heart, Best Western gave us a fine discount to rest our heads, and Wallace Auto Group donated a mini van to allow us one form of transportation to keep us all moving around together. Most of all we thank Captain Rick Sabarese for the use of Brian's Song and all the equipment. We can't do these trips without local support and donations! Thank you all!
To see more fun photos click here.
A huge thank you also goes out to our Board of Adviser members, Jim Bevacqua and Bob Alfeiri for organizing and leading this trip!