Recently the Fort Irwin community hosted my husband, retired Capt. Ed Colley, and me for the Suicide Prevention Stand-Down, Sept. 18. We were impressed by many things.
We understand that in today’s fiscal climate, where every military member and organization is pushed to “do more with less,” carving out an entire day to address issues that develop in the personal lives of Soldiers is difficult. Compounding this difficulty is our nation’s war-time footing and the insane operations tempo we ask of you. We were gratified to see such great support from every level in the chain-of-command, officers, non-commissioned officers, and individual Soldiers.
I was able to sit and watch all four presentations my husband and Beverly Cobain made in the base gymnasium. I was told that about 1,000 people attended each session, yet the room was quiet enough for me to hear my own heartbeat. Frankly, your rapt attention and silence enveloped me like a warm embrace. So many of you followed up this virtual hug with a literal hug – it was amazing.
I was impressed by how many of you were able to share your own experiences and hard-earned wisdom with others. In every case, the display of genuine support that followed demonstrates that Fort Irwin is a close-knit and caring community worthy of emulation.
Clearly it is impossible for me to thank each of the thousands of you personally, so I ask that you accept this less than personal, but heartfelt, approach:
Thank you for your service.
Thank you for your hospitality, love, support, and significant contributions to our healing.
Thank you for caring for yourself and every other member of the Fort Irwin Community.
We learned that in the hours and days after our trip to Fort Irwin, several Soldiers found the courage to come forward and seek help for some of the personal issues they faced; others had the compassion, and tools, to help these courageous men and women start along a path of healing. We know that together, you are able to support each other, save lives, and leave fewer fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and children without the Soldier they love so much.
With love and appreciation for all who stand in harm’s way.
(Editor’s note: Kathy Colley is the mother of Pfc. Stephen E. Colley and the wife of retired United States Air Force Capt. Ed Colley. The Colley’s son died by suicide in 2007. Ed is a mentor for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and he shared his family’s story of resiliency during the Stand-Down for Suicide Prevention at the NTC and Fort Irwin, Sept. 18.)