Running from New York to Miami | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | June 23, 2017 5:00 pm
Last Updated: June 21, 2017 at 1:02 pm
Why would anyone run from New York City to Miami?
Because they care about their cause.
On June 3, cadets from the University of Delaware and members of Reviresco started their fourth annual 1,400-mile run at the Freedom Tower in New York City, heading for Miami. On June 15, they arrived in Walterboro. They’ll reach Miami on June 24.
The six ROTC cadets are running for Reviresco, an organization that works to improve relationships between veterans and civilians. “We work to bridge the military-civilian divide, which we define as a lack of empathy between civilians and veterans — meaning civilians don’t really understand what most veterans do. We go in and try to teach people the right questions to ask, to go beyond just saying ‘Thank you for your service,’” said Nick Rizzo, one of the runners. “This run is our primary fundraiser for the year so we can continue to go into places and set up chapters and deliver our message for free.”
A rising junior at the University of Delaware, Rizzo has some understanding of the military side both through ROTC and from his grandfather, who was in the military. He plans to join the Navy after he graduates, because “I just always wanted to serve — it’s just a mindset, I guess. Some people are just born different than others. And I’d like to be deployed someday.”
During this run, the six college ROTC cadets stop along the way to talk to news organizations to promote their cause, but also talk to veterans in various towns to “make sure our message is what they believe. None of us have really served yet, so we’re just going by what they tell us.”
Reviresco’s website explains: “Future military officers, these young men are in the middle-ground between civilian and soldier. They have witnessed society’s lack of understanding regarding the roles of military personnel and how to engage with them. Reviresco was formed to improve that understanding,”
A story illustrating the impact civilians can make is recounted on the website. “The importance of the group’s mission is personified by a veteran named Jerry whom riders met on a bike ride from Arlington, Va., to Gettysburg, Pa. During Jerry’s deployment in Thailand, he lost both legs and saw his best friends die in an IED explosion. Years later, Jerry felt excluded from society while simultaneously suffering from survivor’s guilt. Jerry was alone and depressed, and there came one day where he had suffered enough. He was wheeling home, mentally preparing himself to take his own life. A stranger passing by asked, “Hi, how are you today?” This simple question turned into a conversation, lasting several hours, and saved Jerry’s life. He felt a sense of belonging in society. Reviresco’s mission is essential because it teaches civilians the proper tools to engage with veterans instead of simply labeling them as victims of PTSD or heroes of society.”
“Organizations aimed to help veterans such as Team RWB and Got Your 6 do an excellent job of working with the veteran community, but they do not teach civilians how to bridge the divide. When a veteran is in the grocery store shopping, or wheeling home like Jerry, it is not the veteran organization that is going to help them — it is the average Joe checking out next to the veteran, the website says.
“It doesn’t take a lot from society to make these men and women feel appreciated and welcome when they return home. Reviresco encourages people to engage with veterans, ask them what their military job was, take interest in their service. Taxpayer money funds their operations, whether individuals agree with those operations or not. It is a duty to take an interest. Veterans served for us, now it needs to be us for them.”