Group marches 32 miles for veterans

Sinclaire Sparkman • Nov 14, 2017 at 6:14 PM

As the sun set on Veterans Day, 28 people walked into Lebanon after traversing 32 miles from the Nashville Legislative Plaza to honor those who have served in the military. 

Now in its ninth year, the Fallen Soldiers March works to raise money to support wounded veterans. Each participant in Saturday’s walk was asked to raise $100, and many raised more than that. Single mom Brooke Means raised $3,400 alone, and many of the firefighters participating raised $1,000 or more. The grand total raised was about $6,500, according to Fallen Soldiers March president Jim Retzke. 

See a full gallery of photos from the event.

“Our organization exists to magnify the glory of Christ and help those who have served our country have better lives,” Retzke said. 

Money raised at the annual event goes to fund a service dog given to a wounded veteran. This year, service dog Click was gifted to Daniel Nance, who served in the Marine Corps. Nance was a member of the fire and rescue team.

“They’re the ones who, 24 hours a day, are ready when they’re needed. When a plane comes in and can’t get the gear down or has battle damage or something else is wrong, maybe it’s on fire, they’re the ones who put their silver suits on, crank up the tactical vehicles, depending on where they are, and roll to help,” said Gen. John Castallo, who served with Nance. 

During this year’s march, the group was cited for running a red light in Hermitage. Metro Police told Retzke the organization needs to apply for a parade permit in the future. 

“We want to synergize and respect our first responders,” Retzke said. “If we need to get a parade permit going forward, that’s what we will do.” 

The cost of securing a parade permit in Nashville costs $100. 

The annual trek from Nashville to Lebanon is just one part of the work the Fallen Soldiers March does throughout the year. The organization provides counseling services, as well. 

“Our counselors are biblical counselors who volunteer their time to help our veterans who have PTSD, brain injuries, ALS, Parkinson’s disease and all kinds of ailments,” Retzke said. “We are also trying to impact the divorce rate within members of the Special Forces.” 

Retzke said the divorce rate is about 50 percent in the normal population, but it is around 80 percent within members of the Special Forces. 

Fallen Soldiers March also hopes to soon build a ranch-style facility to train service dogs and provide a center point for its services. 


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