Take a moment to read what veterans had to say about their experience at our events, it's pretty powerful. Clearly, this event is much more meaningful than a half-naked pub crawl.
Wanna share your own experience at an IW event?
“You guys have come up with by far the best outlet there is for vets! It’s the one place I can be myself and act crazy and not get judged for being weird. Coming home was the hardest part of the military for me. No one understands me or gets why I am the way I am. I didn’t have to explain any of that to anyone at the hike. I just drank my beer and laughed harder than I have in years. Thanks guys!”
“Maggie and I served together for 2 enlistments and she’s reached out quite a few times trying to get me to go to one of those hikes with her. She saw me struggling and made it a point to tell me that there are people here for me. I took her advice and went to the hike here in Florida and I’m so glad I did! I was pretty nervous about showing up alone since I didn’t really know anyone but I immediately felt at home with everyone. The blisters on my feet right now will remind me of it for weeks! You guys should make these things happen every few months because I can’t express how therapeutic it is to be around family again. If I could travel to more I would love to! Thanks for the suggestion mags it saved my life!”
“I’ve had my good days and my bad days since getting out of the marines. Lately it had been quite a few bad ones until my friend suggested we go to one of the hikes he saw on Facebook. Going to college station was amazing in so many ways. I met at least 25 people that I have kept in contact with since and they are now my new support. We laughed together, cried together and ultimately became family after that hike. I will be attending as many hikes as I possibly can in the future so those bad days become less often. Thank you Donny and Ryan for staring such a beast of a company!”
“I didn’t get to attend a hike but I did get to attend a networking event down in pacific beach my friend Maggie told me to come out to. I’m still active duty at the moment so I wasn’t expecting anything different that I don’t really get at work every day. Boy was I mistaken! I’ve never met a more outgoing friendly group of people in my whole life. They immediately made me feel like a part of the family and welcome. It was nice relaxing and being able to talk openly with a group of people you barely knew. That event in itself was just like its own form of therapy. I hope you guys have these more often! Semper fi! “
“To have that many service members in one spot laughing, cracking jokes, enjoying company, meeting other great people, disregarding what branch you are from- was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I felt better afterwards. I felt different. I felt like a normal person. This has to happen more often.”
“Everybody has their demons that they fight off every single day, and this hike has helped me overcome many of them. They will never be truly gone, but I have the ammunition to suppress them.”
“Thank you everyone. You probably didn’t realize it but you and the Lord got me through this past year. Your stupid posts, motivational quotes, family pictures, military pictures, sick kids, and well wishes kept me going. It’s been tough. Very tough. But it’s also been good. Adversity breeds determination and appreciation. So to all my friends and family, thank you. Alaina Bramlett thank you for not giving up or giving in.”
“These two silkies hikes have finally made me understand that none of those civilians will ever be able to support me. I can only find it in the comfort of my wife (she can calm me down like no other) and a bunch of gay ass Soldiers and Marines. During the Houston event I didn’t know anyone. I felt a bit out of place. This weekend one of my best friends John Keohane joined me. We met some great guys like Roberto Edger and Brandon James Lyles. Many others made us laugh and gave me courage to reach out to my fellow dysfunctional veterans.
The amazing part is since Saturday I have seen momentum with my experience. Many new friends on Facebook and we communicate every day.
Just think, I almost didn’t go on Saturday. I am in one of the best places (psychologically) that I have been in a decade. I worry about the day I fall on hard times. This event may have saved my life. For when hard times come, I will now have that support network I needed. Thanks Donny O’Malley, Mark A. Metzger III and Christopher Katthage. While we have never really spoken, your actions are saving lives…. Some you have never known.”
“When a man returns from military duty, sometimes he brings pain in tow. Additionally, it doesn’t have to be a traumatic death or unimaginable misfortune. In fact, it could be the symbiotic way of life or a friendship with others that he is separating from, somewhat akin to having a layer of skin removed from a foot after a lengthy trek. It could even be that after you were ordered to serve (against your boss’ wishes,) your civilian hiring manager was only too happy to let you go due to a mistake you made; thereby, causing you to be either unemployable in the field/industry to which you’ve dedicated over a decade of sweat. This, and much more, makes for broken hearts. The silkies hikes are more than just a reunion of bodies, they’re a reunion of like-minded souls yearning for ears to listen, shoulders to cry on, and stories to extract the tears. It’s a request for peers… and that’s why we beat our feet into mush, slap dozens of mosquitos from our naked back, and drown our sorrows together with laughter and camaraderie. To be happy, comforted, and included.”
“As a female Marine Veteran I will admit to being nervous to showing up at a hike where a bunch of misogynistic, loud, obnoxious male Veterans were going to be hiking in scantily clad short silk shorts known as “silkies”. I was pleasantly surprised to learn and realize that I was completely wrong and assumed wrong. I genuinely felt like I wasn’t looked at like a “female” or a “woman” but more of a sister. That was something I had missed about being in the Marine Corps. Growing up with four brothers I knew how to take being teased and learned early on how to give it right back and stand up for myself. During the six years I was active duty that was what I loved most about it. Having hundreds of brothers that would call me out when I was being stupid, be there for me when I needed a shoulder, tease me in only ways a brother can, and protect me if I needed protecting. Never once during the LA silkies hike did I feel that I was being oogled or objectified and during a time where social media seems to be cyber bulling female service members it was nice to see a Marine run organization that was helpful rather than hindering and who’s message truly was supporting and being there for each other.
rreverent Warriors made an event where gender, age, race, financial status, rank, or branch of service represented truly didn’t matter. There were service members straight out of boot camp all the way to service members who had seen multiple campaigns there. In a military world where it seems to matter sometimes who went to war and who didn’t Irreverent Warriors truly understands that it’s not about how many times you went to war but the fact that you signed the dotted line and decided to leave home to serve your country and better ourselves. It was truly a blessing and an honor to be a part of a very amazing event that made a couple few weeks feel much better and I can’t wait to see where Irreverent Warriors goes from here.”
“I flew to Florida for a visit to find out there was another hike there and I was so stoked! I’ve attended a few of the ones in Texas and I can’t even start to explain the high I feel every time I leave one. I haven’t been myself since I got out and being around people who are as wild as me is so nice! I missed being a part of something and I never realized how much I missed it until I went to my first hike. You guys fucking rock!”
“I showed up in LA expecting a damn good time and that’s exactly what I got! I’m not going to lie, the organization on this hike was a bit off and the overall mood was kind of off but me and my buddies made our own fun! We hiked, we drank, we bonded and played grab ass the same way we would have if we were active duty. I would recommend these hikes to any person having a hard time. It brought me back out of my shell at a time I needed it the most and set me down a whole different path. I’ll be attending as many as I can! Thanks brothers!”
“I’ve been to a ton of hikes.. Pretty much every one we’ve had in Texas that I can think of. But this year I also attended some irreverent warriors beach bashes as well. I had no one before I went to my first hike. I live alone and pretty much sat at home and drank alone at night. When I went to my first hike I got about 6 phone numbers and those dudes have become my best friends. Now we call and text and annoy each other as much as a pfc annoys a SGT. I couldn’t ask for more. All the man love is awesome. I can’t wait until the next one! Keep these things coming!”
“I will say that this whole event and meeting everyone has made me put the gun back on safe and want to live and to love. All of you had my back while I was going through this shitty time in my life, and because of all of your love and support, I can honestly say I’m stronger for it. I love you all, with all my heart.”
“These hikes have impacted me in the most positive way I can imagine. The camaraderie has been truly missed and the hikes have allowed me to experience that brotherhood again. Being connected again with all the Vets is priceless, and I am making it my highest priority to continue to show up and support at all of the hikes possible. Semper Fi!”
“Hey Isaac, I really appreciate you giving this opportunity to do this. I found a brother who was also trapped in a fire, like me. I haven’t ever talked to anyone else who’s experienced the same problems as me. It took about 20 seconds before emotions overcame me like they never had before. I go months without sleep and just manage to live one more day, most days. Now that I feel like I’m not so alone, I feel like I can make it to the next hike. This shit means so much to me. Thank you to all of my brothers and sisters for just showing up. Rah.”
“I got your six. We’re all in this together. So many nights, lying in bed desperately seeking sleep, yet knowing I will not find it, wanting a .45 sandwich. I tell myself, ‘One more day’. Just keep on keeping on. You never know what the next day could bring. Thank you for this hike. I desperately needed to feel normal again.”
“I can’t say enough about this experience. I am glad I found a group of people who understand me. In 2005 I was recalled from the IRR. I was wounded by an EFP during my tour in 2006 and when I returned from Iraq I was discharged and had no support network. Only a bag of narcotics and a small bank account. I only survived these years because of the support of an amazing woman. To this day I don’t understand why she stays with me.
After one of my soldiers committed suicide I tried to get my civilian friends and family to understand what we go through. I post shit on Facebook all the time but it falls on deaf ears. No one ever responds. It’s as if I posted a candy crush request. Recently I realized my posts were not always about awareness but me screaming to find empathy from a group of people who are not capable of giving it to me.”
“I’ve attended a few hikes so far and they have been absolutely outstanding! I’ve gone to some alone and some with friends but every time I go I feel so glad that I did. The bonding experience is unlike anything I’ve ever attended and I can’t wait to go to the next one!”