Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD) firefighters donated their time on a four day retreat dedicated to serving combat veterans. Each year, a local “modern day warrior” who has lost their life in combat serving in the United States military, is honored. This year the retreat honored Nicholas W. Newby who served in the United States Army. He was killed in service July 7, 2011 in Baghdad, Iraq, 10 months into his 12 month deployment. He was 20 years old.
Veteran Community Response (VCR) and SVFD Firefighters host the retreat with an Opening Ceremony that begins at Station 10 on day 1, moves to Deer Lake, and finishes with a luncheon ceremony for families to attend. The four-day retreats guide combat veterans on the path to healing, fostering camaraderie through recreation and shared challenges with the goal of turning strangers into brothers and sisters. Activities include ropes courses, kayaking, rock climbing, yoga, whitewater rafting, Native American sweat lodges, archery, boating, and trap shooting. Throughout the retreats, veterans work with trauma clinicians and peer mentors to share effective tools to reintegration and rebuild trust, confidence, and companionship. Each evening, participants gather around a fire circle to explore common postwar readjustment challenges and to share their hardships and successes.
Spokane Valley Firefighter Darrin Coldiron shared in leading the sweat lodge which brings a centering element to healing for those who attend. Many veterans return each year to attend the retreat and noted it is always a great and healing experience. New attending combat veterans are quiet on the first few days but by day 4, trust and healing have begun leading to friendship bonds that continue after the retreat is over.
This year’s Retreat began Friday, August 16 with closing ceremonies today at the Spokane Valley Gun Club for lunch, closing ceremonies, and a path going forward to continued growth and healing.