IGY6; Builds Camaraderie in Veteran Community

Have you ever heard active-duty military members or veterans say, “I’ve got your six?” Do you know what they mean?

Many people don’t. And some of the folks who do know that it means, “I’ve got your back,” aren’t sure about the history behind it. 

The saying actually originated during World War I. Fighter pilots referenced the rear of an airplane as the six o’clock position.

On the battlefield, your “six” is your most vulnerable part – what you can’t see without mirrors. And where your fellow pilots need to focus in order to protect you.

“I’ve got your six” is a term military members use to indicate they are watching out for each other.

Therapeutic Adventures Designed With a Purpose 

And it’s exactly what Andy William (Founder) and James Urban (President) had in mind when they re-launched IGY6; in 2020. It’s a nonprofit organization that builds camaraderie among the veteran community through epic therapeutic adventures. 

One of the group’s main goals is attempting to put a dent in the number of suicides occurring among the U.S. veteran population.

Approximately 22 U.S. veterans take their own lives every day. Most are single, live in large metropolitan cities, and have a physical or mental disability.

Andy and James believe the adventures this organization provides help veterans regain a purpose and bond with other vets. Many of whom share their issues of loneliness and despair.

Void Leads to Foundation Launch 

“What we veterans miss is the camaraderie – brotherhood and sisterhood – after we complete our service,” Andy said. 

“Unfortunately, the fight is not always left on the battlefield. We have to overcome daily struggles. From physical to mental to just needing someone to relate to.

“It’s a void that is left in our lives after the service. That’s the void that influenced me to establish this foundation.”

IGY6; was launched in 2017. Two years later it became a registered nonprofit organization. 

Most of the IGY6; members are based in America. But some live in Germany, Serbia, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. 

Members include active military, veterans, government contractors, emergency responders and law enforcement.

Every Character Has Meaning

Andy explained the name of his organization, the reason for the semicolon after “IGY6” and the logo color scheme.

“When an author writes a sentence and is at the point of ending it, but wants to continue, they use a semicolon,” Andy said. “It creates a pause. Almost like a thought or reconsideration of the cessation of a sentence. Or, in this case, your life.

“The letters have a color as well as the number 6 and the semicolon. They also carry meanings. The letters “I,” “G” and “Y” are in black, for the heavy hearts many of us carry. The number “6” is in red as a symbol of the blood that has been shed. 

“The semicolon is teal, as a symbol of PTSD Awareness. So when you combine it altogether, it is a way of saying that if you are thinking about taking your life, pause, it is not time to end it. I’ve got your back and will help you through it and stand by your side.”

Three Adventures in 2021

IGY6; began its therapeutic adventures in 2021, conducting three over a nine-month period. 4Patriots donated seven Patriot Pure Personal Water Filters for the third event. They were: 

  • Shark Swimming. “We took four veterans and one firefighter to free swim with sharks off the coast of East Florida, thanks to Calypso Dive Charters,” Andy said. 
  • Skydiving. “We took four veterans and one active-duty member to jump out of an airplane from 18,000 feet, thanks to Jump Florida in Lake Wales.”
  • Survival Training. “We took three veterans, one former firefighter and one former correctional officer for three days/two nights to Hastings, Florida to learn how to survive in the forest with almost nothing, using skills taught to stay alive, thanks to North Florida Survival.” 

Fishing and Rafting on Tap

In 2022, two therapeutic adventures are planned with more on the way. A Catch & Cookout Chartered Fishing Trip will be held March 11-13 in Tampa, Florida. And a Whitewater Rafting Trip will be held June 3-5 in Banner Elk, North Carolina. 

“For the fishing event, we have to split it into two events due to the size of the boat,” Andy said.

“So between both events, we’ll take three veterans, one active duty, one former firefighter and one former police officer for a total of six.

“For the whitewater rafting event, we don’t have an amount yet. But it might be between 8 to 10. We’re still working out the details.”

A Holistic Approach

Each event includes a $100 travel voucher plus travel agent support, free lodging in the reserved IGY6; Retreat House, and access to the IGY6; Family Feast for members and their families.

Event costs and fees are paid for by The IGY6; Foundation. That’s thanks to partners and sponsors that provide members with a life-changing adventure without the undertaking of financial hardships.

The events are carefully curated to provide a holistic approach to helping the veteran community develop a positive mental attitude, help introduce a spiritual awakening and be part of a growing family that has each other’s six.

Events are alcohol-free, promote a healthy mindset, build camaraderie and help members step out of their comfort zones to get excited about life and looking forward to the future. 

Tech-Savvy Veteran Is All In 

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Andy spent time in the United States, Virgin Islands and British Islands while growing up.

After completing high school in two years, he entered a technical college to become an electrician. He earned his state license at age 18. 

Andy served in the U.S. Navy before returning to college to study digital electronics. He then graduated from an aviation technical institute. He has been an instructor for an aviation technical institute and worked for an aerospace company.

In addition to his duties with IGY6;, Andy currently works for a leading global information technology, consulting and business process services company. One of his sons is in the Navy and another is joining the Air Force.  

It All Started With One Friend

Andy said his impetus for starting IGY6; was helping a good friend who had served in the Army.

“He was going through a very tough time and had no one close to relate to,” Andy said. 

“Not to mention his PTSD and physical struggles, plus the financial issues that he and his family were going through.

“After that experience I knew exactly what I wanted to do. And that’s how the IGY6; was born.”

Survival Training Event

Circling back to the Survival Training event, activities included learning how to build shelters from natural materials and make fire with primitive tools. Plus identify edible plants and wildlife, find and purify water, and signal for rescue.

As well as instruction in thermoregulation, basic bush-crafting, weaving and mental survival.

“We had all types of hurdles to overcome for this event,” Andy said. “From surgically repaired knees to arthritis and obesity to sleep apnea.

“But all of our participants not only made it through the training, but the life-changing stories that we have heard following this and other events have been absolutely astounding.

“We were trained on how to use the 4Patriots Personal Water Filters. Everyone was very appreciative of your generous donation and we thank you.” 

Donations Are Welcome 

And speaking of gratitude, Andy wanted to wrap up this communication with some words of thanks.

“First, I want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to help my brothers and sisters,” he said.

“Second, I want to thank my wife, Karla, for supporting me from the beginning. I love you! 

“Third, I want to thank my brother in arms and President of this awesome foundation, James, for all your ideas and all you do within the foundation. I love you, brother!”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to The IGY6; Foundation may visit www.theigy6.com and click on “Donate.”

Comments

  • James Konczol - March 23, 2022

    Thank you guys for all the support you show the IGY6 foundation…It helps out a lot.

  • James - March 23, 2022

    I want to thank Andy and James for allowing me to participate in the survival training weekend, As a former Marine I do have issues a could not walk very much do to health reasons, But during that weekend I got to push myself and everyone was there for me the whole time, I’ve only talked to the others on our foundation chat room, But by the end of the weekend I felt as if I was on a family reunion weekend getaway, I love each and every one of them, and thank them for always checking on me. Got back to Ohio and did miss them all but that weekend made a big impact on my life, to this day I’m drinking water only and eating better and taking walks and can run with my children,andy DOC says my numbers are going in the right direction (health wise) and mentally in a much better state. Thanks, Andy and James, love guys.. I’ll always have your 6 brothers…

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