Operation RESILIENCY: Veteran group gather in Charlotte to reignite bonds, prevent suicide

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – When the soldiers of the Army’s 82nd Airborne 2nd Battalion 508th Infantry Regiment returned, they went home to their families across the nation. It’s been ten years since they’ve all come together, and many say they are thankful for the opportunity to reconnect.

The men gathered in a hotel lobby in Waverly. They stood shoulder to shoulder in combat from 2009 – 2010, members of the Army’s 82nd Airborne 2nd battalion 508th infantry regiment were involved in over 100 battles while deployed in Afghanistan.

“To be with the people that were shoulder to shoulder with you as these events happened. This is a once in a lifetime kind of an opportunity,” said veteran Shawn Donahue.


‘Shoulder to shoulder’: Retired Marine in Charlotte working to get allies out of Afghanistan

 This is Operation RESILIENCY.

“It’s our suicide prevention program where we reunite tactical combat units from Iraq and Afghanistan to bring them back together to reignite those bonds of brotherhood,” added Jeremy Davis, programs director for The Independence Fund.

The Independence Fund sponsored the event. The men walked to dinner through people thanking them for their service, and led by U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, who says this event means a little more to these men, after hearing the news of at least 12 people dying in Afghanistan.

“We’re actively working interpreters and linguists’ cases trying to get people out of Afghanistan that these men knew,” added Tillis. “They camped with them, they were in fights together, they saw service members and interpreters die on the battlefields.”

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This is why the weekend is so important, the focus is on mental health to combat veteran suicide. Recently there has been a spike in suicides among the division known as the Red Devils.

“We believe in the power of brotherhood,” says Davis. “The power of social connectiveness. So, this weekend for them is very powerful.”

 It’s also a time to honor those who lost their lives in Afghanistan, and when they leave to go back to the different parts of this nation, this unit will know there is always someone they can call when times are tough.

“There’s plenty of veterans organizations out there and they are phenomenal,” says Donahue. “People can relate to what you’re talking about, but they weren’t there with you per se.”

Over the next few days, the unit will attend workshops, go fishing, hiking, and give back to the community through a service project.

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