MISSION AND VISION
The mission of Veterans Skydive for Life is to bring awareness to the number of Veteran suicides, and to find a way to bring that number to ZERO!
The Meaning Behind Veterans Skydive For Life
"After leaving the service, the thing that I missed the most was the camaraderie. It simply does not exist in the same way outside of the service and many Veterans feel alone and lost. The closest thing that I have found is the connections made and friendships shared at drop zones all across the country. We have all loved our lives at one point and our goal is to have every Veteran answering the question to, 'How are you doing?' with LOVING LIFE!"
The Inception of Veterans
Skydive For Life
On June 19, 2012, I received word that my closest friend in boot camp, Steve Luzinski, had taken his life. A few months later, I learned that another friend, Frank Steiner III, had taken his life. I was lost within myself. The loss of their lives churned up my own issues, and I wondered why these men decided to end their lives.
I have been a volunteer at the Highground in Neillsville, Wisconsin for several years and was asked if I could build a display for an event that would display boots to honor the Veteran men and women that commit suicide each day. According to the VA, the number of Veterans committing suicide was at 22 per day. That is over 8000 men and women who decided life was not worth living every year. I was fine building the display, but once I brought it to the Highground, and the boots where displayed, it really hit home with me.
I was not going to allow myself to return to the place I was earlier in my life. I needed to clear my head. So, on June 1, 2016, I set out on a motorcycle ride across the United States. In 41 days, I traveled just shy of 10,000 miles visited 31 drop zones meeting hundreds of new people. My hope was to educate those that I met about the crisis of Veteran suicide. My journey was cut short due to a family emergency.
Throughout the journey, I learned that not everyone wants to jump out of a plane. Once my family was taken care of, I started making plans not only for another ride but to start an organization that would help Veterans learn to deal with life’s challenges. On May 23, 2018, I started the ride under the name, Veterans Skydive For Life. With the help of my family, many individuals, and the organizations' Vets Fighting For Vets and Road 2 Freedom MRO Inc., I hit the road. The VA announced Veteran suicide was now 20 per day. I left with the goal to ride 20,000 miles, meet and skydive with at least 20 Veterans, and to reach 20,000 followers on our Facebook page. We exceeded both goals on the ride, and we are still working on reaching 20,000 followers.
In June 2019, we had our first annual Veterans memorial ride. Followed by our event Veterans Wind Therapy in August, which was held at the Wisconsin Skydiving Center. We were able to take five Veterans on a tandem skydive to show them the camaraderie that skydivers share with not only other skydivers but everyone that comes into the drop zone. Our hope, and goal, is to support Veterans, and build the camaraderie at home that we all once had while we served. In January 2020, we became a 501C3 Non-profit organization. We look forward to the day when all Veterans can answer the question, “How are you doing” with, LOVING LIFE.