First ever Irreverent Warriors Silkies Hike coming to UtahApr 30, 2021 06:46PM ● By Lindsey Baxter
Group gathers to start the hike in Oceanside, California. (Photo courtesy Jarvie Curtis)
By Lindsey Baxter | [email protected]
With people having lived in isolation for over a year, mental health continues to come to the forefront. One category of people who are struggling with additional triggers on top of COVID-19, are veterans.
Some may have heard what the number 22 represents, but there is a deeper meaning behind this number. On May 1, a national organization that uses this number in hikes to bring awareness to the cause will be in Utah.
Irreverent Warriors has a mission and vision to bring veterans together using humor and camaraderie to improve mental health and prevent veteran suicide. Every day in the United States, 22 veterans succumb to suicide.
Jarvie Curtis, a veteran with three combat tours in Iraq, is the local coordinator of Irreverent Warriors who announced the first “Silkies” was happening in Utah.
“Silkies are the short shorts that the Marine Corps wear,” Curtis explained. “They are super short and pretty ridiculous looking. Our agenda is to walk 22 kilometers with 22 pounds on our back to stop 22 veteran suicides that happen each day. Irreverent Warriors is a nationwide non-profit that is holding over 70 hikes across the nation. Our mission is to bring veterans together through humor and camaraderie to end veteran suicide.”
Cindy McNally, who served in the United States Army and Texas National Guard for six years, is the president and CEO of Irreverent Warriors. McNally said the nonprofit aims to improve mental health and prevent veteran suicide.
“We do this through social events across the nation that allow veterans to make and foster those critical bonds. Giving veterans a safe space to communicate and vent is critical to the healing process.”
Curtis is passionate about this cause and has officially been part of Utah’s division for over a year developing close bonds with veterans across the county. In a time when isolation and quarantine has made life harder, the organization wants veterans to have a healthy support system, across the nation.
Curtis said his motivation initially came from seeing friends post pictures and videos from past Irreverent Warrior events.
“This started the conversation about the mission of IW and how it impacts so many lives,” he said. “I didn't realize how strong the message was until I started to interact with the men and women that make the organization function. I have lost many friends that I served with to their own hands and my hope is that I won't have to hear that message again. I am passionate about the message and mission of Irreverent Warriors. If my efforts save a single life, they are not wasted.”
Many on the Millcreek Community Facebook page have asked what they can do to help.
“We are always looking for volunteers and donations,” Curtis said. “Volunteers are the foundation of our events and truly make them happen. Donations can be in the form of products or money. We use food and water to feed our hikers and volunteers during the events. We use items to raffle to our participants too.”
Curtis said remember that the mission never ends. “The moment that we end our hike, we set our sights on the next year and smaller functions in between. Donations and support are needed and welcomed throughout the year.”
McNally and Curtis want the community to know that IW is a veteran organization first and foremost. The focus is keeping veterans together and alive. “When you see us out walking through Salt Lake City, give a honk, a wave and show your support to those that signed on the line to protect this nation,” Curtis said. “All veterans, guard, reserves, and active-duty military are welcome at our events. We encourage participants from all branches and all service dates to join us for the fun.”
To help donate or volunteer, contact Jarvie Curtis at [email protected]. You can also find information about the event “Irreverent Warriors Silkies Hike – Salt Lake City UT” on Eventbrite.