The Department of Defense estimates that veterans accounted for 13.5% of all deaths by suicide in 2017. Bill Cimino (Beta-Delta, ‘83), retired Army veteran, nearly collapsed as he thought about his fellow veteran brothers and sisters suffering in such a grim way. The calls to protect veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and suicidal thoughts began to roll around in his head like a pinball machine. Cimino’s dedication to this cause began to take shape in a way that nobody was prepared for: rowing across the Atlantic Ocean.
Through the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge, also known as the World’s Toughest Row, begins in La Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain and end at English Harbour, Antigua & Barbuda. Cimino will be raising money to support not only the row but build awareness for his cause. He won’t be alone on his journey, Cimino recruited fellow veterans Paul Lore, Hupp Huppmann and Cameron Hansen to take the open ocean in a 28-foot boat. Each of the men represent the four branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Together, they’re veterans doing their civil duty for other veterans. They are, Foar from Home.
At no point have the men thought to themselves, “What are we doing here? What did we just agree to?” Each of them knew the journey ahead would only get harder as the training became more intense. Thankfully, this crew wasn’t starting from square one.
Cimino explains, “we have mandatory training that we have to do, like ocean first aid and navigation. Though, our team is well-versed: Huppman is a retired U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer, Lore is a retired Marine Air Traffic Controller, I (Cimino) am a boat captain and Hansen is an Air Force guy, so we have some experience when it comes to that.”
In order to complete the row within their goal of 40 days, the men will alternate from sleeping to rowing in two-hour shifts. Based on the tales from past competitors, the seasickness during the first five days of the row is unlike anything they’ve encountered before. If the weather becomes bleak; they must continue to stay the course as the emergency boat is about two days ahead of the race.
While on the open sea, each oar stroke represents another veteran living with PTSD and suicidal thoughts. While rowing across the Atlantic Ocean is challenging, it does not compare to the challenge that living with these mental illnesses can lead too. Each day they wake up on that 28-foot boat is another day they can advocate for those who’ve sacrificed their lives for the good of their country.
“None of us think this is going to be easy. We all know we are going to suffer for 40-60 days but it is going to be worth it in the end. The statistics for veterans committing suicide is ridiculous and the numbers haven’t decreased. We are trying to bring that to people’s attention and do what we can to change that number.”
The men will set sail in December 2021 and hope to be the first to finish the race. Beyond their goal of completing the race by the minimum of 40 days, Foar from Home rows with the mission of raising money and awareness to veterans with PTSD and suicidal thoughts. Follow the Facebook page to see the progression of their training and philanthropic efforts in the interim. To be a part of changing veterans lives today, you can donate on the website.
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