Idaho Veterans Olympics brings generations together

Posted at 5:57 PM, Sep 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-17 20:03:16-04

The youngest and oldest generations of military members joined forces Saturday to kick off a long-standing tradition in the Treasure Valley.

As part of the 29th Annual Idaho Veterans Olympics, 18-year-old Jewlia Dewlen was sworn in as an active duty Air Force member. She's waiting to hear back on when she leaves for basic training.

Dewlen said it's a family tradition she wanted to carry on.

"My parents were both in the military and my dad took us all around the world," Dewlen said. "I want to defend my country, follow in their footsteps and travel."

With the theme "Honoring Idaho's military," past, present and future, the inductee ceremony was not only a surprise but a first for the event.

"We try to do something different every year on the torch lighting," said Phil Hawkins, the volunteer coordinator for the Idaho State Veterans Home in Boise. "I kind of keep it a secret."

The sworn in military members were the first to pass on the Olympic torch.

While the veterans' Olympic Games is all about getting outside and being active, there is also a focus to bring together area youth with the country's most beloved generation.

"It's to honor them and to give these kids an opportunity to see what it is and talk to a veteran that served in W.W.II, Korea... Vietnam," Hawkins said.

Larry Robinson is taking part in each event. He recalls his experience in the U.S. Army as a medic.

"The people you meet in the service are such a variety of human beings all across the military," Robinson said.

Dewlen also wants to be a medic but she is still not sure what her duties will be following basic training.

Robinson has this advice for her. "If you don't know, ask questions. That's how you learn. It was quite the experience and I wish her luck in her efforts too."

The piece of advice is something Dewlen can take with her on her journey with the hope of becoming the next best generation.

"You have the three core values, integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do," Dewlen concluded. "They [the veterans] constantly show that with how they act."

More than 250 veterans took part in the event. Gold and silver medals were awarded, and all athletes received a participation medallion.