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The air is crisp, the coming of winter nipping at the edges of fall. Orange flames flicker and dance across logs, throwing long shadows across the faces of six men huddled around its glow.
One clears his throat, eyes cast downward, a slight tremble in his voice as he begins to speak. He talks of a failed suicide attempt in a whisper of words almost lost to the wind.
Another looks at the group with watery eyes. He recalls nightmares and debilitating anxiety brought on by multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Several others nod along, listening to a story so familiar it could be their own.
This is a scene typical of Warrior Bonfire retreats, a multi-day reprieve from daily schedules and responsibilities reserved for Purple Heart recipients – a decoration awarded to men and women with wounds suffered in combat.