Warrior's Weekend inspires veteran's family (video)

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

May 17, 2012 at 12:17 a.m.
Updated May 18, 2012 at 12:18 a.m.

With a brain injury, Nick Lowry has short term memory problems, but performing little task like setting up his fishing tackle for Warrior's Weekend has helped stimulate his memory.

With a brain injury, Nick Lowry has short term memory problems, but performing little task like setting up his fishing tackle for Warrior's Weekend has helped stimulate his memory.   Frank Tilley for The Victoria Advocate

Nick Lowry's heart beats humbly.

And the three Purple Hearts he's received beat with even more humility, although people would say Lowry's service to America is something that should ring loud and proud.

"It's really hard to discuss ... it's hard really to separate ourselves individually when there are so many of us," he said. "Whether we were wounded more in a mental aspect or whether we lost limbs, regardless, it's a tragedy."

"He's really humble about those Purple Hearts," Lowry's wife, Nicki, 27, chimed in.

For the Lowrys, of Victoria, it's more then just about being a veteran, it's about spreading inspiration to more than 500 wounded soldiers through Warrior's Weekend, which begins Friday.

'The power of Warrior's Weekend'

When Nick Lowry first attended the festivities three years ago, Warrior's Weekend wasn't so much for himself as it was for others.

The 29-year-old captained a boat during the Port O'Connor fishing trip.

"I'm one of the lucky ones," he said. "I can still kind of play with my kids, but there is almost this guilt whenever you go somewhere like Warrior's Weekend."

Lowry has no visible physical trauma. His trauma is all emotional, something he really does not like talking about. He was part of the initial invasion in 2003 in Operation Iraqi Freedom and then again in 2004 and 2005 in Operation Phantom Fury, the clearing of Fallujah.

Lowry, who is now a retired E4 Marine corpsman, has been in a boat with veterans he knows and veterans he doesn't. The experience is a wonderful one, he said.

"It's a surreal feeling," he said about the Warrior's Weekend.

As the buses carrying wounded warriors parade through Victoria, people line the roads, waving flags. This is one of the greatest feelings Lowry has ever felt.

"It's kind of a healing process," he said. "Other veterans, we can sympathize with them. Sometimes it's even hard to open up with others until you hit that bond."

This year, Lowry is even more excited. He is not captain of the boat, but he will be fishing, which relaxes him.

"Fishing has become a therapy for him," his wife said.

'Let it spread like wildfire'

What started as a relaxing and therapeutic weekend for her husband slowly inspired Nicki Lowry to take matters into her own hands.

Last year, she started Warrior's Wives, a group through Warrior's Weekend, that helps women cope with husbands battling not only physical ailments, but also post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

She came up with the idea when she met another wife at an event for wounded soldiers. They talked about how nice it would be to have some support for women, but then the light bulb went off in her head.

"We shared so many things," she said.

The group is still small, but is growing. She is working with other wives to set its foundation. This Warrior's Weekend will give them a chance to try to find new members.

Warrior's Wives' idea is about support and talking, relating with other wives about dealing with their husbands' injuries, both mental and physical.

"We're not professional degree counselors, but we do things the VA can't do," she said.

The Veterans Administration helps with government assistance, like money and medical services, but the VA cannot be there like a family or friends can, she said.

Even Nick Lowry has been inspired to do more through Warrior's Weekend.

He wants to plan a retreat for veterans and create a support group of his own, though these plans have just been thoughts and nothing has officially been set up.

The Lowrys have one hope for this Warrior's Weekend.

It's a simple idea - community.

They hope men and women coming from out of town for Warrior's Weekend are as inspired as they were to start something in their own community.

"The government can't do it all. It needs to be more community," Nicki Lowry said. "Let it spread like wildfire."



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