On Dec.16, veterans and military service members will take to the streets of Key West for the annual Irreverent Warriors Silkies Hike.
The nonprofit Irreverent Warriors bring thousands of veterans together at events across the United States. In the Silkies Hike, active duty personnel and veterans hike anywhere from 8 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 full of nostalgia that help promote an environment of humor and camaraderie.
Irreverent Warriors is a nonprofit whose mission is to bring veterans together using humor and camaraderie to improve mental health and prevent veteran suicide. The Key West Silkies Hike involves scores of hikers as well as volunteers who line the route, many from Kenna Construction, whose co-owner Jess Forsyth is one of the organizers and a true believer in the good it does.
According to numerous studies, including a commonly referenced VA Suicide Data Report conducted in 2012, at least 22 veterans and military service members commit suicide daily. Although this statistic has become very well known, it is often considered a gross underestimation of reality. Irreverent Warriors has stood up to fill an unmet demand by introducing its members and participants to a life-saving network of support through their events and community. “Everyone fights their battles and heals from trauma differently, but one thing is consistent — no one should have to do it alone,” states the group’s website.
Irreverent Warriors invites all veterans and military service members to hike in the event. The group also asks family members, friends and the community for their support and invites them to register as a volunteer or join the hikers at the stops.
The hike is open to veterans and military service members, including active duty, reservists and National Guard.
Registration for the Key West Silkies Hike starts at 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 16 and the hike steps off at 9 a.m. from Hurricane Hole Bar & Grill on Stock Island. Stops include the Southernmost VFW Post 3911 on North Roosevelt Boulevard, Truman Waterfront Park, Southernmost Point, Heroes Bar on Southard Street and Dantes. Food, drinks and camaraderie will be provided at each stop and throughout the hike.More information is available from Chad Salinero at 305-849-2608 or Jess Forsyth at 305-394-7184, on Facebook under “Irreverent Warriors Silkies Hike – Key West” and at irreverentwarriors.com/.