MISSION and VISION

The MISSION of Irreverent Warriors is to bring veterans together using humor and camaraderie to improve mental health and prevent veteran suicide

 

Our VISION is Irreverent Warriors will be the force that unites the Veteran community and drives a healthy culture within its members. Through creative engagements, events, and strong Veteran-based support networks, we will be known as the catalyst for improving the Veteran outlook. 

We will be the most effective Veteran community in the United States.

Why HUMOR?

ir·rev·er·ent - adj. - an inability to take serious things seriously.

We have experienced pain, tragedy, and trauma- both overseas and at home- and we have used humor as a coping mechanism.

Laughing in the midst of tragedy allows us to continue the mission without breaking down mentally every day.

Irreverent Warriors are connected by three things.

1) Our shared experiences in the US military.

2) Our shared experiences as people who have dealt with pain, tragedy, and trauma.

3) Our tendency to use humor to get through pain, tragedy, and trauma.

How do we PREVENT Suicide?

Irreverent Warriors are the men and women who have been prepared to kill and die for our country. We have laughed in the face of death, dismemberment, and the enemies of the United States.

When we created this organization, we created something special, giving our military and veterans the opportunity to come together, using humor and camaraderie to support each other.

Irreverent Warriors knows that the best support network for veterans, is other veterans. We bring a community of warriors together through therapeutic events across the country like our main event, the Silkies Hike, in addition to happy hours, holiday parties, camping trips, etc… We also partner with veteran organizations who provide services such as job placement, training, housing, service dogs and more.

The mental and spiritual support between veterans, combined with the introduction of a network of individual, family, and community connectedness gives veterans the help and hope they need to put the gun back on safe, put it back on the nightstand, and stick around a bit longer.

The connections and bonds made at our events allow veterans to create their own support network solving the most crucial issue contributing to veteran suicide; isolation.

Eliminate isolation, and we’ll eliminate suicide.

Our MAIN EVENT

The Silkies Hike itself is The Prevention 

We go 22K with 22kg representing the 22 military suicides a day

Hiking in combat boots and carrying a ruck has been an important part of military culture and training since the beginning of time. Combat and non-combat veterans, alike, enjoy the camaraderie created during shared misery. The laughter and the sense of purpose remind us that the brotherhood and camaraderie that we once had in the military will never die and we’ll always be there for each other.

Silkies are an old military tradition that has been eliminated by the military and one that we have chosen to revive because of the nostalgia and the laughter that they create.

Bringing veterans together through humor and camaraderie improves their quality of life. Be that through the Silkies Hikes, or other events - BBQ’s, sporting/music events, family picnics, happy hours, reunions, or simply getting together in someone’s living room

The END RESULT is fewer veterans who kill themselves.

WHO ARE WE?

 

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Founder/Chairman of the Board, Captain Donny O'Malley

The "Silkies Hike" or 22, with 22, for the 22 as it was first known, started as a single event on July 25, 2015, in San Diego, CA. It skyrocketed to over 40 events nationwide in 3 months time, each coordinated by local veterans. Captain Donny O'Malley, USMC (Ret), and Sergeant Ryan Loya, USMC, co-founded the hike through their non-profit, Irreverent Warriors, with the idea that camaraderie and humor can save a life. In 2014, Donny and Ryan each lost a close friend to suicide. While a patient in Wounded Warrior Battalion West located in San Diego, CA, Donny befriended LCpl Artem Lazukin, who took his own life on March 29, 2015. Six months prior, Sgt. Jeremy Sears committed suicide on October 6, 2014. Sears was first to respond when an IED blast threw Ryan 20 feet into a nearby river.

As a result, Donny and Ryan made a pact to reduce the epidemic of veteran suicide, and so started the Silkies Hike:

22 with 22 for the 22

 

President & CEO, Cindy McNally

Cindy McNally is a veteran, Army and Texas Army National Guard 1978-1983. She is the Founder and Past President of Wilco Blue Star Mothers, a Dept. of Defense organization for military parents, and she is the Blue To Gold Liaison for the families of our Central Texas KIA’s. She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and was the committee chair for the Women Veterans Service Committee that worked with the Sexually Traumatized Women Treatment Program at the VA Hospital in Temple, TX. She has also served on the Executive Board of Directors for Heroes Night Out, SERTOMA, and Wreaths for Vets/Friends of Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery. She also volunteers with other veteran service organizations - Carry The Load, Reveille Call, Fisher House, Honor and Remember, and VFW to name a few.  She is a member of American Legion Post 447. She has a son and daughter who are both Army Combat Veterans. Her husband of 25 years, a Naval Academy grad and former Marine F4 pilot committed suicide in 2007. It was through the IW Silkies Hikes that she, her son, and daughter experienced the “life-changing” healing that can take place in the company of other warriors through the camaraderie that is so unique to IW.  As a result of this experience, she has committed her heart (ruck, boots, and body) to bring awareness to and supporting IW. She served as the IW National Hike Coordinator for 2 years. She’s known and referred to by most as “Momma Bear” or “Momma” because she lives by the code.

No warrior is left behind, forgotten, left alone, or unloved.

Colin Campbell, MBA

Chief Financial Officer & Coordinator, San Francisco Silkies Hike

USMC CPT Route Clearance Platoon Commander

Masters of Business Administration/Finance UCLA

Lives in California and is currently a Senior Analyst for an industrial development company in Newport Beach, CA

"Anything I can do to help veterans, prevent them from losing the battle at home and spreading the IW cause is what I'm all about"

Tony Hooks   

National Director of Silkies Hikes & Coordinator Ft Worth and Dallas Silkies Hikes

USMC Operations Chief

MS Intelligence Management, BA Global Business

Lives in Texas and is currently a Project Manager for a Commercial Construction Co.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy"  MLK Jr.

Stefanie Parker, MPAS, PA-C

Director of Clinical and Mental Health & Coordinator, Savannah Silkies Hike

US Army Specialist, Information Technology Spec and UH60 Doorgunner

BS Cellular and Molecular Biology, Masters of Science in PA studies

Lives in NYC and is currently the Chief PA for the Neuro-Surgical Surgery Team, Mt Sinai NYC

"Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life"

Nate McDonald  

Director of Public Affairs and Marketing & Co-coordinator, Fayetteville Silkies Hike

USMC Sergeant, Intelligence Operator for Special Projects

BS Management, BS Intelligence Studies

Lives in Florida and is currently working in the Dept of Defense as a Consultant and Subject Matter Expert

"Everyone deals with their struggles and heals from the wounds inflicted in the past in different ways, but one thing is consistent, no one should have to do it alone"

Steve Zulu   

National Silkies Hike Assistant & Coordinator, Mohegan Sun Casino Silkies Hike

USMC Corporal, Security Force Commander

Lives in Connecticut and is currently a Chemical Tech with a Global Pharmaceutical Co.

"I've been down the dark, lonely road.  It's a lot easier to pick yourself up by your bootstraps with a team of brothers by your side"  

Mychal McCleary

Director of Information Technology & Coordinator Portland Silkies Hike

USMC Sergeant, Weapons Co. 3/7   

Lives in Washington and currently works as IT Manager at Albina Fuel

"We spread the message that little gestures can save someone's life because, at some point, we all need help"

Regional Coordinators

Edgy Taylorson - USMC, Baltimore Hike Coordinator/New England
Colleen Sullivan - USMC, Seattle Hike Coordinator, West Coast & Incident Liaison
Alex Bratt - USMC, Lincoln and Omaha Nebraska Hike Coordinator, The Great White North
Jacob Romero -  USMC, Waco Coordinator, The South

 

Spiritual Resiliency Advisor

Brandy Brown - USMC Camp Pendleton, CA

Admin

Ellen Crane - Finance & IT
Chandra Mead - Merchandise & Volunteers
Russel Oxley - Drone Operator and Photographer