JOY Stories



A Walking Miracle

“If you take the position, I want you to think about suicide because we have soldiers killing themselves. I need you, as the Chaplain, to do something about it.” I thought, "How does this Colonel know I am thinking of suicide?”

In 2009, the third of my four boys was burned in a backyard explosion. It happened on my watch while my wife was grocery shopping. For the first time in my life, I had thoughts of suicide. I planned to deploy with the 48th Brigade and let the enemy take me out. However, my paperwork was lost and the 48th Brigade deployed without me. I ended up in a training unit and they don’t deploy.

Instead, I was sent to Ft. Jackson, SC. As part of our training, we traveled to Charleston Air Force Base where my oldest son, MaCrae, was stationed. We had an opportunity to tour the USS Yorktown, so I invited him to accompany me. Somehow, even as a 20-year-old, he knew what no one else knew - that I felt personally responsible for what had happened to Chad. He looked me in the eye and asked, “Dad are you thinking of suicide?” I admitted to him that I was. He said, “Dad don’t do it. I need you in my life.” Then he said, “Do you remember when all of us boys were little, and you made us memorize Psalm 46? Could you just tell me what the first verse says?” Even before I spoke the words, just the thought of the Word of God obliterated all my self-loathing. The darkness turned to light, and I told the Word that gives life: “God is our refuge and strength a very present help in times of trouble.”

Through it all, I found my purpose. In 2012, I founded Armed Forces Mission to turn the tide on veteran suicide. Since inception, I have conducted more than 1,600 successful suicide interventions and trained more than 20,000 others to do the same including law enforcement agencies, the 101st Airborne, teachers, crisis line workers and faith community members.

Chad, by the way, is truly a walking miracle. He is married now and they have a beautiful little boy.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call or text our prayer line at 877-800-7729.

Photos for Lou


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