Luis Remache was injured, single and "in a bad spot" when he first came to the retreat organized by the Long Beach Waterfront Warriors 10 years ago.
"I got terrible luck with grenades," said Remache, 37, who lost his legs during a night mission in Afghanistan in 2011 as an assistant squad leader with the Marine Corps.
But what he calls a "bad day at work," led to meeting with the woman who later became his wife and with whom he spent this weekend's retreat.
The Remaches, who live in Manorville, were one of a dozen families invited this year for a long weekend sponsored by the Long Beach nonprofit that treats wounded service members and their families to a holiday vacation at the beach and with trips to New York City, according to Jerry Snell, a retired FDNY captain of Long Beach and president of the organization that offers a summer retreat as well.
The program began in 2008 and has served hundreds of families, Snell said.
"A veteran is able to de-stress with other veterans to talk [about] some of the stuff going on until this day," said Remache, who married Cynthia Maria Remache in 2018, after they met while he was hospitalized. The couple now lives with their two children, ages 5 and two months, both born on Sept. 11.
Cynthia Marie Remache recalled meeting her husband while on medevac duty during her first weekend as a Marine Corps lance corporal at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
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"He was the first person I saw come off that ambulance that I helped unload," she said.
Later she discovered his sense of humor. "He was very funny. … The aura that surrounded him kinda drew me to him."
Over the years, longtime volunteers like Linda Cutler grew to know veterans like Luis Remache, who regularly came back for the annual retreats.
"The veterans deserve to be acknowledged, remembered and never [forgotten], especially after 9/11. We lost so many people," said Cutler, of Manhattan. "They've defended us. We have to do our part."
Combat veteran Vincent Cerchione, 49, of Springfield, Va., said the organization’s invitation and "their doting" on his family over the summer Warriors retreat meant a great deal to him.
"My kids dealt with me and my PTSD and the anger that I dealt with," the father of three said. "While they were here over the summer, they were allowed to be just kids. They played and they met friends. They had fun in the water. We had a vacation, which we just hadn't been able to do, especially with COVID."
Cerchione, who retired as a major from the Army in 2018, served two deployments in Iraq, including one in 2003 when a grenade explosion threw him to the ground and knocked him unconscious. He woke up a few minutes later and shook it off. It wasn’t until years later that he learned he had sustained a traumatic brain injury.
"Some of the stuff that those of us deal with weren't physically injured," he said. "So it's very difficult to understand that you're even injured."
But he doesn't have to deal with that dissonance when he’s in Long Beach over the weekend.
"These guys, they just want to make our lives that much easier," Cerchione said. "To have this extended family here with all these firefighters, police officers [and] the city of Long Beach … is incredible."
By Dandan Zou firstname.lastname@example.org
Source : https://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/veterans-long-beach-waterfront-warrios-1.50442982761