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Warriors’ Peace provides daily support for veterans, community

Christina Swanson For Clay Today
Posted 12/31/69

MIDDLEBURG – For veterans and those in the community suffering from various mental or emotional traumas, there is a resource you may not have heard of called Warrior’s Peace.

There is a lot …

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Warriors’ Peace provides daily support for veterans, community


Posted

MIDDLEBURG – For veterans and those in the community suffering from various mental or emotional traumas, there is a resource you may not have heard of called Warrior’s Peace.

There is a lot that is unique about this nonprofit that brings about fundamental transformation: from setting the tone of the day first thing early morning, every weekday morning, either in person or via Zoom, through movement and meditation, to bringing scattered focus to present-moment living by checking in on all the realms of body, mind, emotions, spirit and relationships.

“When you join this no-cost group, you will be embraced exactly where you are, taking actionable steps together through movement, meditation, breathing exercises and honest communication,” said the founder and retired Army Sgt. First Class Raylan Heck.

Heck opens his home each weekday morning for what he calls “chasing alignment,” where emotions, spiritual and relational, are identified and treated with exercise and breathing. Pain is processed back to childhood memories if that is what is needed. Truths are identified, and attention is redirected from suffering to purpose.

“It’s something that anyone who has gone through severe trauma must work on daily, even hourly, at first, to periodically forever,” said Heck. And he surely knows.

Wyoming native Heck joined the U.S. Army after earning his Associate of Arts degree to become an infantry ranger and sniper, following in his dad’s footsteps. He participated in three tours – one in Afghanistan and two in Iraq.

In his 10th year, he was working as a ranger instructor at Eglin Air Force Base when he learned his family died in a double homicide and suicide. Heck couldn’t cope, no matter the varied professional therapists and anti-psychotics medicines tried, and he became increasingly dependent on meds, alcohol and drugs, trying to “zone out.”

Eight years later and still battling demons, he got a job with UPS, working up to 12 hours a day, which helped him focus. During his years of drugs, alcohol, being jailed and baker-acted and a difficult marriage, nothing was fully helping. Anyone battling anything so deep knows change only takes place when they accept full responsibility and heart shift.

This is what happened in 2017, when a few simple words became his epiphany and he threw away all his crutches.

“I had just gotten off the nightshift delivering packages at my UPS job and was listening to Revelations with my headphones while at the urinal when I heard Revelations, Chapter 3:15-16, ‘Either be hot or be cold, never be lukewarm.’”

At that same moment, Heck glanced down to see a bible track had been left at the urinal and was open at that precise verse.

“Something clicked in me, and I knew God was real, and I had to be all in,” said Heck. “I went home, woke up my wife, and told her I was done.”

“That’s why I ask folks who are struggling, ‘What reaches your heart?’,” he said. “We can know things cognitively, but not until it reaches the heart and soul that positive change can happen.”

Since then, Heck has started several initiatives to raise money to help suffering Veterans, such as the Rhino Ride. This “400 miles in 24 hours” motorcycle challenge was raising pledge money for six local charities.

Heck is known for the significant advances made for the nonprofit Operation Barnabas, which provides tools needed to assist Vets and First Responders to be whole again. This can help with PTSD, addiction, family and marital issues, reentry after jail, finding a job, getting transportation or housing and one-on-one mentoring.

While Heck and his wife were looking to buy properties to rent or Air B&B, they also began searching for reasonable, suitable housing for these mostly homeless Veterans, discovering it was difficult in 2021’s over-priced market. He was still working long hours for UPS and overseeing the nonprofit when he quit working to focus on Barnabas full-time.

So much has been accomplished in the two years Heck was president. Most notably, 80 Veterans and First Responders were helped and are living good lives, and land and low-income housing have been purchased to help even more. Dubbed Fort Grace I, property in Green Cove Springs was bought and established with five small houses, and they are waiting on rezoning for more housing development.

All the while, Heck has also been helping Vets and folks who need daily support to lift them from their internal struggles through Warrior’s Peace. Today, Heck is focusing on Warrior’s Peace with the reigns of Barnabas handed to another veteran.

Along with helping folks “chase alignment” each morning, he and his team of licensed therapists and pastors are available to work one-on-one to identify struggles and bring back significance in people’s lives. There are also more intensive programs, such as the 12-week Water Walkers, which includes a 40-hour survival fast in the woods that gets down to the basics.

“It’s a rite of passage where physical markers encourage spiritual transformation,” Heck said. “Enlightenment comes from consistency, which gives those suffering the courage to face their fears or ego. It helps people realize that they have choices, that how they live is a daily choice, and that they can use their unique gifts to help themselves and others.”

Learn more by reaching out to Heck at warriorspeacecsi.com or warriorspeace43@gmail.com.