A group is making a trek from the Boise, Idaho area to Hillsboro in support of the Save A Warrior Foundation, which is headquartered just west of Hillsboro near Danville.
The Save A Warrior Foundation has been working to prevent suicides and heal post traumatic stress among the nation’s veterans, active duty military members, and first responders from its Hillsboro headquarters, dubbed Warrior Village II, since the location was given to the organization by an anonymous donor in late 2020.
“Right now we have four guys on motorcycles and we have a chase car that includes myself and another volunteer,” said Elizabeth Wright, who helped coordinate the trip. “We also have some motorcycles that are going to be joining us in different states.”
“One hundred percent of the money we are raising is going to Save A Warrior,” said Wright. “It’s earmarked specifically for Idaho vets and first responders, but Save A Warrior is based in Hillsboro, Ohio.”
The current motorcycle riders are Lance Santiago, a former Marine and law enforcement officer in California; Eric Krites, a firefighter in Ohio; John Avilla, a former Marine and corrections officer; and Army veteran Charlie Johnson from Illinois.
Prior to the trip, Wright organized a mental health symposium and a raffle in Idaho to support the Save A Warrior Foundation. The raffle brought in more than $7,000, and the symposium raised between $4,000 and $5,000.
In total, the group has raised about $50,000 so far. “Our fundraising goal was $35,000, so we’ve beat it,” said Wright.
A number of Ohioans have contributed to the effort. “We’ve had the firefighters association give and other people brought checks from Ohio with them that they donated to the cause,” said Wright.
Donations to the Idaho fund can be made through courageoussurvival.org.
“Most importantly, it’s about getting vets or first responders the treatment for suicide prevention,” said Wright.
The cause is also personal to Wright. An Idaho state trooper who encouraged her to attend the POST training academy for law enforcement in Idaho committed suicide as did another family friend close to her. “Also, my nephew served in Iraq, and he had an IED explode,” said Wright. “Luckily, he’s alive and he’s a detective in Florida, but he struggles with PTSD, and he lost a lot of other guys in his platoon from the explosion.”
The group began the trip Saturday, Sept. 9 and will meet at the VFW post in Hillsboro Saturday, Sept. 16.
Lance Santiago, who has been through the Save A Warrior Program, credits the retreat-based treatment with saving his life.
“Probably the biggest message that we want to spread is that you’re not alone, and people really care about you, and there’s a program that can get you through it,” said Wright.
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.