5 For Good: Figawi Sailing Team Raising Money to Prevent Veteran Suicide

Veteran-led crew of the Defender supports America’s Warrior Partnership at Memorial Day weekend race.

By: Erika Tarantal
WCVB5 ABC News / Updated: 4:00 PM EDT May 26, 2022

The crew of the sailboat the Defiance claimed the performance trophy at the Figawi charity sailing race a year ago.

Crew captain Martha Kristian said they are prepared to defend that title this Memorial Day weekend, and will do so on a new boat with a fitting name, the Defender.

“My husband defended our country with his service in the Army,” Kristian said. “And, I like the name. It’s the winner of an America’s cup.”

Chris Kristian served as a pathfinder in the Army.

“Pathfinders set up landing zones for airborne troops,” he said.

He will help set the best course during the race, and at his side will be Jim Lorraine, a former Deputy Command Surgeon of U.S. Special Operations Command.

Lorraine, also an Air Force veteran, heads up America’s Warrior Partnership or AWP, a nonprofit largely focused on ending veteran suicide.

Kristian and his business partner Gary Terry from the Westport Group said they have been raising money through the Figawi and other events to support AWP.

“Unfortunately, during the Gulf War, I lost a lot of friends,” Kristian said. “A few committed suicide afterward and that still continues.”

“We believe the VA platform albeit very large and robust, they can’t do it all,” Terry said.

Right Now, AWP is leading a study that’s helping to develop locally-tailored suicide prevention strategies.

“There are so many veterans out there with so many different backgrounds,” Lorraine said. “What we’re able to do is to say the veteran who has the highest probability of taking their life has this background, and they have this military experience. They’re of this gender, they’re of this age. That’s the person that you want to engage in the community.”

During this year’s charity race, the Defender crew said they hope to do a tremendous amount of good, raising funds while honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

“There’s a lot of those people,” Kristian said. “Hopefully, we won’t add to that count with veteran suicide, which is why America’s Warrior Partnership is so important.”