On Saturday April 25th, The Carry The Fallen Team in Washington D.C. hosted a Hike To Heal throughout the scenic district of D.C. to raise awareness and donations for the charity Active Heroes. The event was called the Carry The Fallen – Hike to Heal and was coordinated by Team Leaders John Giblin and Mea Peterson with supporting veterans Earl Granville and Dustin Dorough.
“Back in January, we could have never had any idea that the Carry The Fallen – Hike To Heal would turn into something like this,” said Dustin Dorough. “After months of conference calls, route recon trips, tedious planning, and a lot of mind-numbing effort from everyone involved, it finally happened on April 25th, 2015.”
The Carry the Fallen is a team hiking event designed by the charity Active Heroes, that helps to reduce veteran suicide by building camaraderie, training team leaders in suicide prevention and growing a list of ambassadors who support the veteran communities in every state. To-date the Carry the Fallen event has also raised more than $500k towards a 144 acre Military Family retreat called the Active Heroes Retreat Center. The donations have been used towards the purchase of the land, purchase and maintenance of farm equipment including atvs, lawnmowers and a tractor, volunteer projects to clean up the land and plans for the roads, cabins and activity areas of the retreat.
The Carry the Fallen event in D.C. began with over one hundred people gathered at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The staff from Active Heroes was on site doing registration check-ins and keeping things organized. At 9:30, the event began with the Old Guard from Arlington National Cemetery for the presentation of the colors before the entire team sang the National Anthem. While singing, two Vietnam Veterans not affiliated with the event, stood rigid while saluting the flag.
After the ceremony the team stepped off, marching two by two along the reflecting pool and around the Washington monument. The team passed by a large group of World War II veterans who were on an “Honor Flight”, a free trip for veterans to visit war era monuments. The veterans stepped aside for the Carry The Fallen team to pass with smiles on their faces and tears actively flowing down their cheeks.
The Carry The Fallen Team hiked to the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, where they took a long break of silence to reflect on the reason for the event (22 Veteran Suicides a day) and then entered the courtyard where Earl Granville, an Operation Enduring Freedom veteran from the 1/109th Infantry Regiment talked about the loss of his left leg to a roadside bomb in December of 2007. He also shared his story of enlistment, deployment and eventually the loss of his twin brother, Joe, which gave many deep insights about post-traumatic stress.
“When the Soldier talked about his brother taking his own life after he got injured, it made me realize that I need to be thankful for the people in my life,” said Cpl. Gavin Ching, a Hawaii Army National Guard Soldier deployed to Kandahar province. “I made sure to call my family the next day to wish them happy holidays and let them know that I love them.”
From there, the Carry the Fallen Team moved off toward the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial where several people including Rob Davinci, Dustin Dorough and Jeremy Board shared their own stories about personal demons from combat.
On the way to the ending point of the event, the team visited the Vietnam Memorial and marched two by two in absolute silence with their flags at the front. Veterans saluted the colors, tourists cried and even more people had immense respect and reverence for the Carry the Fallen team and the sacrifices made by Vietnam veterans, whose names are listed on the wall.
The day ended with everyone regrouping at the Lincoln Memorial for the closing statements, distribution of patches, and an invitation for everyone to meet at the Clarendon Grill to earn more about Active Heroes.
“There were important outcomes resulting from the event including more people becoming comfortable with admitting their personal demons and learning they weren’t suffering alone,” said Nathan Karpinski, National Director for the Carry The Fallen events. “The event was a huge success because it spread the awareness we are trying to raise to a larger audience including tourists in D.C. and the Team members.”
Learn more about Carry The Fallen events at: www.CarryTheFallen.org
Learn more about the Military Fmaily Retreat Center at: https://activeheroes.org/military-family-retreat/