PARKLAND, FL- In the early 2000's, future Mission Zero founder José Belen was sent to Iraq to serve America supporting the 2nd Armored Calvary Regiment, whose role was to secure the city of Baghdad.
"When my unit got to Iraq we already had our orders for our deployment and those orders were crystal clear- to secure Baghdad, Iraq, Sector 51 West, Al-Adhamiya," he recalls.
Belen spent 14 consecutive months in Iraq, and his stories and experiences are not only powerful, but they are almost too many to count. His life was on the line on a daily basis, and he came face to face with death numerous times.
What Belen least expected was to see the toll the war would take on its veterans upon their return. "Every 30 minutes, another veteran takes their own life due to PTSD. It's heartbreaking, and we have to do something about it. Mission Zero's mission is to have no more lives taken due to PTSD. Parkland has had its share of tragedy recently as well, and Mission Zero wants to support mental health in the community in any way possible. We want people struggling with PTSD to know that there is hope for them and to not give up," stated Belen.
Mission Zero Memorial Fest is a free event that will be held Sunday, May 26 at Parkland's Equestrian Park from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. TAPS will be played to open the festival while the colors are presented. The event will also feature music, a bounce house, face painting, kite flying, Harley Davidson bikes, a local fire truck will be on hand, and more. There will be over 40 local vendors and food trucks as well at this event geared towards uniting veterans and the local community in general. Everyone is welcome to join the celebration.