A Fight for the Fallen

In the aftermath of the most recent war efforts in the Middle East, hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women are returning to a home that may not look the same as it used to. Veteran organizations are plentiful and the want to help returning soldiers is there – but a void still exists.

Fallen 15 is trying to fill the cracks of many Columbus organizations that returning servicemen and women are hoping to take advantage of through the organization’s “whole warrior” concept.

“For men and women who have come back and struggled, we want to activate them back into the community,” said the organization’s co-founder, Marshall Jackson. By orchestrating community events, such as their marquee Fallen 15K, where a fallen solider is honored every kilometer, to regatta and shooting range events, the veteran community is brought together in a single location, evoking the camaraderie of their time in service.

Since its inception in March, Fallen 15 has been hard at work promoting their organization as one that honors fallen soldiers while also enriching the lives of veterans returning home from war. Having already developed several new events,  including therapy for veterans through art, dancing, cooking, and horseback riding, they are continuing the process of rounding out the 2015 agenda. Most of these will come at no cost to veterans, as contributions and donations from the public will help fuel the activities.

According to Jackson, developing a community comprised of both veterans, as well as community members, is vital to the success of veteran organizations – especially with returning servicemen and women assimilating back into a non-combative life. The communication and language between current and retired servicemen and women breeds a close connection not usually brought forward by those looking in from the outside.

By orchestrating community events, such as their marquee Fallen 15K, where a fallen solider is honored every kilometer, to regatta and shooting range events, the veteran community is brought together in a single location, evoking the camaraderie of their time in service.

“So, when I open up to guys like that [veterans] and say, ‘Hey, I’m struggling a little bit, I’m feeling a little isolated, a little depressed today, I need a pick-me-up,’ [veterans are] who we go to,” Jackson said. “I think you’re going to find the majority of veterans probably feel the same way. A man or woman who comes back may not want to talk to a psychiatrist or psychologist.”

Though events may take up a majority of the organization’s itinerary, it doesn’t stop there. Many servicemen and women do not have the qualified skills to seek a job – a big step in assimilating back into civilian life – but Fallen 15 looks to remove that obstacle, thanks to a scholarship program through BMI Federal Credit Union.

“Now, you’re 22 years old, you’ve done a tour, you don’t have a college degree, and you’re a infantry guy – what can you really do? That’s a challenge, and there’s a lot of people who come back like that,” Jackson said.

Fallen 15 goes full-circle from its community outreach, and events, to directly supporting and aiding veterans with their transition back into normal life.

“The invisible wounds are the emotional and spiritual side that you can’t see and the ones that men and women are struggling with, including myself. Those are the kind of things we have to identify and we’re trying to identify,” Jackson said. “One of the answers is the ‘whole warrior’ concept, getting people involved in the community, and having the community support us is a healing process. It’s great.”

Learn more about The Fallen 15 at this month’s Veterans Day Parade (November 7), as well as at their CrossFit Challenge at seven different gyms in Columbus (November 11). For more, visit fallen15.org.

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