Irreverent Warriors use water balloons, fun to combat mental illness in Veterans

Veterans gather under the shade of a canopy following a water balloon battle at the Hopedale...
Veterans gather under the shade of a canopy following a water balloon battle at the Hopedale Independence day festival.(WEEK)
Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 4:24 PM CDT
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - On a day for all things patriotic, local veterans gathered for comradery and fun and as a part of the Irreverent Warriors Silkies hike.

The organization is meant to prevent veteran suicides by encouraging connection and friendship among those who have served. Mason Willis, the organizer of the Hopedale hike, said about ten of the participants were local, but that several veterans came from out of town and neighboring states.

The day consisted of an early hiking, followed by training in the form of dodgeball. their training paid off at a later water balloon battle with the kids enjoying the Hopedale Independence day festival.

While the events are meant to support mental health, those aren’t the focus of the gatherings. Veteran’s don’t have to talk about their feelings or their struggles if they don’t want to. mostly, they’re supposed to enjoy the day and have a good time.

“Everybody has their intimate little conversation on the side, but as a whole we’re just out here having fun,” Willis said.

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