The sudden loss of the camaraderie and sense of brotherhood experienced while in an active military unit can leave a soldier feeling lost and disoriented. These men and women come back from war with the expectation of returning to the “normal” life they had previously. However, that is often not the case.
Many of them are unable or unwilling to share the feelings and emotions they experience after returning from war. They feel only another veteran can understand and keep these wrenching experiences and feelings bottled up. Many do it because they don’t want to burden family members or friends.
Add to that the number of veterans who come home with wounds and physical challenges they never faced before. Loss of limbs, eyesight, or the death of fellow soldiers can lead to debilitating episodes of post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly known as PTSD. That can lead to suicide. It’s estimated that as many as 22 veterans commit suicide every day.
Several groups in The Villages have organized Spartan Weekend to not only create awareness of this problem but to encourage building new relationships and finding the camaraderie they need here at home. The Spartan Weekend in The Villages will be May 18-21. See villagesforveterans.org for tickets.
Spartan Weekend Overview:
Spartan Weekend includes support events where veterans, first responders, and firefighters participate in a series of individual and team building activities. Those activities encourage and promote the establishment of Battle Buddy relationships. Activities include a bike ride, golf and poker run/scavenger hunt, dining/connecting with fellow veterans, and other activities.
Weekend Highlight—the Spartan Sword Ceremony:
Veterans will tell you when they make a promise to one of their battle buddies, that commitment is seldom broken. They consider it a sacred duty to follow through on that promise. With that in mind, the Spartan Sword ceremony was created by several veterans who had lost too many fellow vets to suicide.
Forged (by a veteran) from steel recovered from the World Trade Center and the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, the Spartan Sword is used as a symbol of strength and brotherhood as veterans make the following pledge: “I will not take my own life by my own hand until I talk to my battle buddy first. My mission is to find a mission to help my warfighter family.”
During the ceremony, veterans touch the sword. Those that cannot reach the sword place a hand on the shoulder of the vet in front of them. That circle continues to expand until all the veterans have physical contact with the sword or a fellow vet. Together they recite the pledge. Those that have attended other Spartan Pledge Ceremonies say it is one of the most dynamic and emotional events they have ever witnessed. This ceremony will be held May 20, 6pm, at Savannah Center in The Villages.
Together, the community, veterans, and others can help save lives and support those who have served their country and given so much to protect our freedom.
Hosted by these central Florida nonprofits organizations:
Combat Veterans to Careers (www.combatveteranstocareers.org)
Villagers for Veterans (www.villagersforveterans.org)