Local veterans raise mental health awareness through hockey

Posted at 10:31 PM, Apr 05, 2022

LAFAYETTE — Their battle field is now on ice.

These Acadiana veterans represent more than just their uniform.

"That's probably one of the greatest things. To be able to put the jersey on and you got your home state, or the state that you're trying to represent, on your chest."

The Louisiana Warrior hockey team is a group of veterans from different branches. In December of last year, they turned a conversation into action.

"We had read this Facebook article saying that there was a warrior tournament, and they helped us kind of get an idea of what we wanted to do", says Vice President, Tyler Brown. "Once we got that and the foundation laid out together, what we eventually came up with was we need at least a B-Level team to kind of compete when you start actively recruiting some veterans."

To their surprise, it didn't take long for them to compete in a championship game, winning the Bravo division in the Lonestar Classic this weekend.

"Good thing I think about these tournaments is that we go to them not expecting and not knowing the outcomes but at the same time, it's like we know we're going to have fun", says Eric Iorio. "We know we're going to meet other brothers from other branches and other states and I think, I know at least for me, that's probably one of the biggest things that I enjoy."

But the real prize has been their cause — highlighting mental health struggles that often cost fellow veterans their lives.

"A big elephant in the room is veteran suicide. I think if if a veteran can get that hand extended out to him, and come and play, it gives him something to look forward to," said Iorio. "I think that's probably one of the biggest contributors and the biggest differences that we can make in the sport and in this organization."

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