Advocate editorial board opinion: We salute our veterans, those who support them

By the Advocate Editorial Board
May 20, 2011 at 12:20 a.m.
Updated May 21, 2011 at 12:21 a.m.

We all desire to honor our soldiers who fought bravely in harm's way. And some of us go the extra mile to make sure these war veterans are recognized for their sacrifice.

Warrior's Weekend, a nonprofit organization, was conceived in 2007 by people who deeply honor our veterans, particularly those returning soldiers who wear the permanent scars of war.

No words can describe the satisfaction that can be seen on wounded veterans' faces when they are treated like the heroes they are.

We recognize the people of the Warrior's Weekend organization: President Ron Kocian (founder), Vice President Billy Bowers, Vice President and Secretary Kelly Parks, Treasurer Darryl Lesak, Russel Hofer, Col. Mike Petrash, Dr. Phylis Canion, Sherry Kocian and the numerous volunteers - too many to name here - who make the Warrior's Weekend the success it is.

We talked to one of those veterans Friday. Brandon Lloyd, 33, was a combat medic in the 101st Airborne in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he was able to make Warrior's Weekend for the first time last year.

"It's almost something you can't put into words," said Lloyd, who is from Mobile, Ala. "You don't see anything like this."

Lloyd shared an experience he had last year. When veterans' names were being read, he heard the name Richard Arriaga, a soldier from Ganado who he had tried to help in September 2003 in Iraq, but Arriaga and two other soldiers died.

Lloyd said he noticed two people standing by Arriaga's memorial last year and approached them. They were the slain soldier's aunt and uncle, who said Arriaga's mother was never able to face her son's death.

The aunt and uncle went back to the mother's house, and Arriaga's mother returned to meet Lloyd. They each agreed that if Lloyd would return to Warrior's Weekend, Arriaga's mother would return.

"She showed up," Lloyd said. "And I brought her my Bronze Star."

We see the value of Warrior's Weekend. Much of what happens is a healing process - for our soldiers and for our soldiers' families.

Proceeds from Warrior's Weekend mainly go to covering the cost of the event - Field of Honor (honoring those veterans who gave their lives), meals for the veterans, lodging for the veterans, equipment, transportation, fishing, trophies, awards, advertising, labor, insurance and other administrative expenses.

We understand that it is no easy thing to present a Warrior's Weekend.

While Warrior's Weekend successfully treats our wounded soldiers to a fishing weekend, you always can participate in these annual events, too. When you participate, you show your support for our troops. And our troops love to see you.

Warrior's Weekend: "I've never been told thank you in my life as much as I've been told thank you in an hour," Lloyd said.

We are fortunate to have Warrior's Weekend based right here in the Golden Crescent. And we salute our veterans and all who support them.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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