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Veterans get sky-high opportunity

Published 9:11pm Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I’ve had the unforgettable experience of seeing Suffolk from 14,000 feet in the air. While that’s not necessarily unique, I saw this sight seconds after leaping — or really falling — from an airplane. The 15-minute experience was perhaps the second-most thrilling period of my life.

I made the choice to jump out of an airplane nonchalantly. It wasn’t about facing my fears or seeing something few have seen. It was merely something adventurous to do to celebrate my husband’s birthday. It was something I’d wanted to do since I was 6, but it didn’t carry a lot of meaning for me.

At least not until I got up there. It is completely impossible to describe what you feel when you freefall from a perfectly good airplane into nothingness, mostly because what you feel depends on the person. I suppose the best I can say is that, for me, jumping from a plane was a heart-pumping mix of joy, adrenaline and freedom. After the initial freefall, when your parachute opens and you glide around an open sky for 10 minutes, the feelings change to peace and invincibility. From up there, you feel you can do anything. I mean, if you can survive falling from an airplane, what can’t you accomplish?

That’s why I think the program sponsored by Skydive Suffolk — the same company with which I experienced skydiving for the first time — is extraordinary. The event, known as “Spring Boogie,” offers wounded warriors a chance to experience skydiving for themselves.

Skydive Suffolk will shut down its operations to give nearly 50 veterans a chance to experience the joy of skydiving. For veterans who are suffering from PSTD or who are amputees, I can only imagine what those 15 minutes will offer them. Perhaps it will be little more than a rush or maybe it will be the beginning of a new trajectory for their lives as they face the challenge of acclimating to civilian life.

But the event also provides all of us with the rare opportunity to meet and thank these men and women who have given so much so that we can remain free.

The event, set for Saturday and Sunday at the Suffolk Executive Airport, will also include bands, vendors, a flag jump and more.

All too often we forget to support those who have supported our country. Companies like Skydive Suffolk provide an example we can all follow.

 

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