Veterans and active duty service members will take to the streets of Reno on July 18 for the Irreverent Warriors Silkies Hike to bring awareness to veteran suicide.
During the 2020 season, more than 60 events will bring thousands of veterans together across the United States including Nevada. Veteran and military participants hike anywhere from 6 to 14 miles, some carrying heavy packs, some in wheelchairs, but all in a spirit of support and camaraderie with a singular mission — to eliminate veteran suicide.
Veterans normally hike wearing only their combat boots and “silkies” — traditional military physical training shorts that help promote the environment of humor and camaraderie the Irreverent Warriors Silkies Hike is trying to create.
Irreverent Warriors, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring veterans together by using humor and camaraderie to heal the mental wounds of war through therapeutic events and entertainment to reduce post-traumatic stress disorder and prevent veteran suicide.
According to the Veterans Affairs’ Suicide Data Report, the latest study from 2017 shows 6,139 veterans died by suicide. On the average almost 17 veterans a day are taking their own lives. The VA reports the suicide rate for veterans was 1.5 times the rate for nonveteran adults after adjusting for population differences in age and sex. Included in that total were 919 suicides among never federally activated former National Guard and Reserve members in 2017, an average 2.5 suicide deaths per day.
The VA considers suicide prevention a national priority and is dedicated to this mission.
Veteran suicides are also a major problem in the Silver State.
“Nevada’s suicide rate among veterans is one of the highest in the nation,” said Kim Donohue, program manager of Veterans Suicide and Homelessness Prevention with the Nevada Department of Veteran Services in Reno. “I want to make our state stand out to bring our suicide rate to zero.”
The Silkies Hike was created to fit an unmet demand for veterans to bond with other veterans, to relive the sense of brotherhood and family felt while in the military.
Warriors from all branches and ranks – veteran, active duty, reservist and National Guard — are invited to join the event for the step off, hike and after party. Family members, friends and the community are also invited to join the event at the stops and/or after party and to cheer and/or honk if they pass the hike.
Registration and staging begin at 8 a.m. with the step off at 9 a.m. Registration is at ReTrack Plaza, 255 N. Virginia St., in downtown Reno. Participants will be stopping at multiple locations throughout the hike for food, drinks and camaraderie. Register on Eventbrite @ www.eventbrite.com/Reno.