Disclaimer: The following information came from Gold Star Mom Debbie Drexler and is posted here with her permission.
Jeremy was the oldest of three wonderful sons. They were all three born at Ft. Leavenworth Army hospital. Jeremy was born July 20, 1980. He was such a good baby. Then two years later his brother Tim was born July 18, 1982 and Kenny March 29, 1984.
All three of the boys joined the military around the same time period. Karl the father of the boys is Coast Guard. His family was all Coast Guard. However none of the boys chose that branch. Jeremy went in the Army, Tim Navy, and Ken Marines. These boys had a tough time growing up. As hard as we tried, they did not have the same things other kids had. So in order to do better for themselves they went into the military to take advantage of the education promised to them. Jeremy did not have that opportunity to use his, his life ended too soon.
Jeremy loved the Army. He grew into such a well adjusted young man. His self esteem improved, and things were starting to turn for the better for him. He was the type of person that made friends wherever he would go. Never asking for anything in return, always doing for others. He gave all he had. I heard a story from my son after Jeremy had died that Jeremy cooked his last piece of hamburger for a stray cat because the cat was hungry. Jeremy’s heart was so big. He loved animals, cared about everyone and everything. He would come home after working all day and help someone move or mow their lawn. Even though he could have used the money, he never took it. He gave all of himself in whatever he did. He put time into serving his platoon above and beyond duty to make sure he did the very best he could. He was the first to go out shooting and the last to go to bed I have been told. His commander told me stories how he was responsible for saving many lives and the soldiers he was with. He did not receive honor metals but he deserved to be respected and honored.
Jeremy was so worried that when the other sons were over there in Iraq that I would be so worried about them. These boys are my world; I can’t bear the thought of losing even one of them. He asked my neighbor to watch over his mom. I was a nervous wreck with him over there. He did not want me to receive a flag on his behalf he told my neighbor. But I DID.
Christmas 2003 was the last time he came home before going to IRAQ. He was so extremely quite during this visit. I could tell something was worrying him. He kept a happy face the best he could but I knew he must have had moments he feared something bad would happen to him. I asked him the famous question, god forbid anything would happen to you, do you know where your soul would go? He assured me all is well with him and God so I drop it immediately.
His best friend came to take him back to Ft. Hood and as Jeremy leaves, I give him a big hug and kiss and told him I loved him. When I went back inside I felt a heavy black cloud commusing me and I knew then that was going to be the last time I would ever have with him alive. I cried all day. Could not shake this feeling.
He went to Iraq after leaving all his earthly belongings to his fellow soldiers. Instead to putting his stuff in storage, he had given it to his fellow soldier buddies to hold until he came back. So even his car was reposed and his stuff was gone after his death. I did not ask them to return anything. It was my son’s wishes for them to keep that stuff. I did get one of his uniforms, his boots, and a photo of him with an angel beside him while he was mopping. When I saw this photo, (a year later) my heart felt some peace. He is with God.
Once my son was buried, my heart shattered in millions of pieces, we were soon forgotten. Kansas has done nothing for our fallen. I have been trying for 5 years to get a memorial built for ALL our fallen only to be blown off. I have stood face to face with all our state officials many times. I did not get any help, they just walked away. I have written letters too, nothing. I stand alone in my fight for our soldiers. Others just accept it. I would like to have something done for our soldiers; I even will provide a statue so it won’t cost the state anything just place it somewhere honorable and secure. I wish I could get some help from a famous person to help raise the money needed to buy the land and do it myself but that will never happen for me. Things for me always come with a high price. I wish for help with my yard issues, a new van, or even help building a new deck but that is only a dream. I have to die knowing I have let my son down. HE IS FORGOTTEN. But I will never forget him.
Jeremy’s soldier buddies gave him the nickname Spider Monkey because he could go where no other could. He loved Monkey’s. I would love to have a plaque near the Monkey cage at the Zoo for him but the man that said he would retired. So even that is put off. I continue my fight!
His hobbies were collecting Marlyn Mansion CD’s, loved Spider Man, X-man, and Stitch and Pokey man. We tried to find the Stitch stuff animal but they were not made yet. He wanted to take it to IRAQ with him. Instead he took the Pokey man dude and a flintstones pillow.
I was sitting on the porch one day, thinking about the son we lost to this war and thoughts came to me, What is an American Idol? Should it be a singer or someone that has a talent or should it be someone that really truly is a true American idol.
I envision myself going on the stage, carrying my son’s boots and hat, following behind me only a few feet are two handsome soldiers in full uniform, carrying the U.S. flag between them. One a Marine and One a Sailor, both so handsome, and both my sons.
All eyes are on us as we approach the center of the stage with the light following us. Standing in front are the judges with the names: Honor, Pride, and Freedom. I reached for the microphone, hands trembling and tears running down my face. "I am only a mother, I have no talent to speak of, and of all I have done in this world, nothing is greater than raising three honorable and fine sons. One gave his life for the freedoms, freedom that we take for granted. The Freedom judge had tears in her eyes and she rose to her feet and said, " I know their names, I know what they've done. As long as there is life, they will never be forgotten."
Off to the side a small young boy stands up and started walking toward the stage. He comes up to me with big blue eyes looking up at me. I kneeled down and placed the boots on the floor next to me. He stands directly in front of me. “ Lady, you don’t know me, I was to be your grandson, but because my daddy was killed so young, I was never born.” Tears streamed down my face as I reached out to touch him. All I could feel was air.
Another shadow came toward me from off in the distance. As it got closer, I could make out the face. It was my dear son Jeremy in full dress Army uniform, proud as could be. I could not move. I did know how that could be. Standing in front of me, sad eyes, and a little smile he begin to speak. “ MOM do not worry about me, I know you are in pain. Do not grieve so much that it consumes you. I am proud of what I have done for our country and I am so proud of my brothers.”
“I will see you again someday. I know you feel I have been forgotten, but I am not. My father in heaven knows and so do you. As long as you remember me, I know I have done good. ” I gave him a hug and kiss and he walked behind me where his brothers stood. They could not believe what they were seeing and was struck with awe. I turned to see what was going on and Jeremy was standing in front of them, in attention and he gives them a salute.
“ You are my brothers, I am very pleased and proud of you. I will always be with you and I will be there when you need me. You may not be able to see me but I am there.” He steps back a few more steps, raising his hand and gave them a final salute. He clicks his heels and turns to walk away, he reaches out his hand to the little boy and they walk off the stage holding hands and on their backs were angels wings.
I can’t believe what had just happened. Could this have really happened? I looked at the judges, they were all standing up. I could not control the crying no matter how hard I tried. I picked up the boots, turned and walked of stage. My sons followed behind me carrying the dear old flag.
Our Soldiers are our Real American Idols. Heroes that should receive all utmost respect and honor. We must remember what they have done and are still doing. Don’t blow off the lives of the fallen. Make sure not one soldier is forgotten and go unloved. Bring our troops home and take care of them when they get here. I speak with a shattered heart, I beg with all my soul…
“Do not forget our fallen heroes.”
Debbie Drexler is the mother of three amazing sons all of whom joined the military. Her oldest, Jeremy, joined the Army in 2002 and was KIA in Iraq in 2004. Her middle child, Timothy, joined the Navy. Her youngest, Kenneth, joined the Marine Corps. Her husband, Karl, was in the Coast Guard.
Debbie, thank you for being so supportive of your sons. Karl, Jeremy, Timothy, and Kenneth, thank you for your service.
Debbie, thank you also for sharing Jeremy's story. I hope this helps.
Nationwide, Alorica and its employees are also partnering with the Military Veteran Project to raise awareness about veteran suicide rates, and raise fund for military suicide prevention.
Melissa Jarboe, the Founder of the Military Veteran Project was onsite for a meet and greet and to discuss the mission of her organization she created in honor of her husband SSG Jamie Jarboe who passed away in 2012 after being shot by a sniper.
"Its our responsibility to stand up for our military service members, our men and women are going over seas to foreign soils to fight for our freedoms and all we have to do is use them." Said Jarboe,
Nearly a dozen Alorica sites across the nation have joined the mission of the Military Veteran Project and will launch the #Dial4Dollars Campaign where employees can get involved in community outreach to raise awareness and funds for research and alternative treatment for prevention of military suicide.
A substantial House majority approved a reform package that would penalize Department of Veterans Affairs employees found guilty of wrongdoing and prompt the department to more intensely scrutinize supervisors' protection of whistleblowers.
The legislation came in response to scandals swirling around the veterans' care agency. Three hundred and sixty eight members voted for the bill. Only 55 members, 54 of whom were Democrats, voted against it, sending the legislation to President Donald Trump's desk for approval, the Washington Examiner reported. The Senate approved the measure last week.
Under the legislation, the VA can more easily dismiss employees and can punish them by restricting bonuses or relocation expenses.
While public unions opposed the legislation, the head of at least one veterans group publicly supported it.
Policy Director of Concerned Veterans for America, Dan Caldwell, claimed that “lives will be saved as a result of this legislation.” David Cox Sr., president of American Federation of Government Employees, suggested the bill created a “witchhunt.”
On February 28, 2017, Chairman Phil Roe, M.D. introduced the VA Accountability First Act of 2017. The House passed this legislation March 16, 2017. The bill would provide the VA Secretary increased flexibility to remove, demote, or suspend any VA employee, including Senior Executive Service employees, for performance or misconduct.
It would also provide improved protections for whistleblowers; would allow the Secretary to reduce an employee’s federal pension if they are convicted of a felony that influenced their job at VA; recoup a bonus provided to an employee who engaged in misconduct or poor performance prior to receiving the bonus; and would allow the Secretary to recoup any relocation expenses that were authorized for a VA employee only through the employee’s ill-gotten means, such as fraud waste or malfeasance. A recent study completed by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that, on average, it takes six months to a year, to remove a permanent civil servant in the Federal Government, though it often takes longer. Just last year, former VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson testified at a hearing that it was too hard to fire bad employees at VA.
In the past several years, VA’s arcane civil service rules have hampered the department’s ability to dismiss an employee that engaged in an armed robbery; discipline a VA nurse that participated in a veteran’s surgery while intoxicated; and hold employees accountable for the continued failures to manage several major construction projects, including the new hospital in Aurora, Colorado, that is now several years and a billion dollars over budget.
Original co-sponsors: Rep. Jodey Arrington, Rep. Jim Banks, Rep. Jack Bergman, Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Rep. Mike Bost, Rep. Mike Coffman, Rep. Bruce Poliquin, Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen, Rep. Brad Wenstrup.
On May 11, 2017, Senators Rubio, Isakson and Tester introduced accountability legislation in the Senate. Chairman Roe and Ranking Member Walz released a statement in support of the Senate bill. Chairman Roe and Senators Isakson and Rubio penned an op-ed on the bill for Military Times. You can read it here.
The Senate passed accountability legislation on June 6, 2017. The House passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act on Jun 13, 2017. You can read more about the legislation here.
- See more at: https://veterans.house.gov/115th-congress-legislation/accountability.htm#sthash.djh9KvF6.dpuf
Join Our Mission & Get Involved
My son, SPC Ellis T. Weems, ended his life on 15 July 2016, while stationed in E Troop 2/2 Cav in Vilseck, West Germany. I knew he went through a series of long field maneuvers both in Germany and in Estonia. I only seen my son home once...in July 2015. In my opinion as a US Army Veteran, the military doesn't focus on the mental state of the soldier anymore-it's all about "the needs of the government". Soldiers cannot function without proper "mental recharge". To have them out in the field for long periods of time, then only allow them to come home for Rest and Relaxation twice a year is uncalled for. This is just one of the reasons Active Duty soldiers are taking their own lives. The "physiological games" being played by Non-Commissioned Officers must come to an end. I cannot bring my son back, but I can speak for those soldiers that cannot speak for themselves for fear of punishment or being "black-balled".
Want To Get Involved, Create Change or Have Your Story Heard? Click HERE
Washington DC- Veterans Post-Traumatic Science & Policy Coalition is pleased to announce that Melissa Jarboe has joined the Coalition.
Jarboe is the Founder of the Military Veteran Project, a military charity created in 2012 to carry on her husband SSG Jamie Jarboe's dying wish to care for his soldiers, she serves as an advisor for Senator Moran's Military Service Academy Board, is a board member of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce Military Relations Council and advisor to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
"It is my privilege to serve on the coalition to continue to influence and create change for our returning service members in the efforts of military suicide prevention. I have had the privilege of creating change in my hometown of Topeka, Kansas and I look forward to the continuation of change in Washington DC on a larger scale with the unity efforts of the members of the coalition." said Jarboe.
Veterans Post-Traumatic Science & Policy Coalition
The objective of the Coalition is to improve treatment of service members and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and facilitate development of PTSD drug therapies by securing federal institutional support and funding for PTSD research at the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DOD).
Department of Veterans Affairs
The Coalition will help develop and implement new VA policies to spur better treatment and care for veterans suffering from PTSD. The Coalition will work with the VA on immediate improvements to VA public-private partnerships for:
The Coalition will seek renewed investment in VA-funded PTSD research and an expansion in the types of research supported. One potential avenue would be to secure inclusion of treatment of PTSD in the VA’s Center for Innovation (VACI) Industry Competition, as VACI funding is not limited to internal VA staff and could increase available funds for private or translational research. This would signal to the private sector that the VA is serious about supporting new therapies.
Department of Defense
The Coalition will seek institutional reforms that improve the ability of the DOD to partner with private sector innovators. The Coalition will work to improve the internal processes of the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC) and speed up the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUX) grant administration process.
The Coalition will advocate for direct funding support for all stages of PTSD drug therapy innovation, from initial investigation to FDA approval, through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity (USAMMDA), DIUX, and MTEC.
The Coalition will monitor opportunities to increase support for PTSD research at other agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration. The members may update coalition policy priorities as appropriate.
Applications are being accepted for the inaugural display of Military Hometown Heroes street banners, to be featured in Downtown Topeka from Sept. 11 to Nov. 11, 2017.
Topeka’s Military Hometown Heroes banner program connects the Capital City with other communities in Kansas and across the nation in creating a vibrant tribute for our neighbors who are serving, or have served in the armed forces of the United States.
“This is good for Topeka. It’s a win-win for all of us,” said Scott Gales, president of the Military Relations Council of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. “The banners will create a sense of familiarity. These heroes are our neighbors, friends and relatives.”
Spearheaded by the Military Veteran Project, the banner program also is made possible with support from the Military Relations Council, Visit Topeka and Downtown Topeka, Inc.
“"We wanted to give our community a way to honor and pay tribute to our local veterans and giving loved ones a way to show their appreciation for their veterans service through the Military Hometown Heroes of Topeka,” said Melissa Jarboe, founder of the Military Veteran Project, a volunteer-driven nonprofit focused on prevention of military suicide through research and treatment. MVP is based in Topeka. “We are happy to be able to partner with Downtown Topeka Inc, chamber of commerce and Visit Topeka on this community project.”
Each 24” by 72” banner includes a portrait of the service member, their name, rank, branch of service and a white, blue or gold star to signify an honorably discharged veteran, a currently serving service member, or those who died in the line of duty, respectively. The honoree must be or have been a Topeka resident.
The first 68 banners will appear on Kansas Avenue in Downtown Topeka between Patriot Day and Veterans Day. The program may be expanded to other areas of the community. Each banner will cost approximately $200, including production, installation and removal. The fee can be paid at the time of application. Donations also are being accepted by the Military Veterans Project.
One of those banners will feature Army National Guard LTC Anthony “Tony” Randall. His wife, Jenalea Randall, is a member of the Military Relations Council and spoke about the program this week. Recognition of Topeka’s Hometown Heroes will remind all of us that our freedom requires action, she said.
In the case of LTC Randall, who served stateside after Hurricane Katrina and earned a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq, recognizing him with a banner will allow his friends and family to remember his love and commitment – to each of them and his country. LTC Randall was serving as Chief Environmental Officer for the Kansas Army National Guard when he died of brain cancer in 2014.
“Each community has their own approach to this,” Randall said of recognition for veterans and active service members. “I’m glad we will be able to honor Tony and his service in a way Topekans can see.”
For more information click HERE.
Shaun P. Covington:
Sgt. Shaun P. Covington lost his battle on March 21, 2016, at the age of 25.
Shaun was born October 20, 1990 in Washington, DC. Sgt. Covington was a signal support non-commissioned officer assigned to 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team at Fort Riley, Kansas. Sgt. Covington arrived at Fort Riley in February 2013. He was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from April 2011 through April 2012 and Operation Inherent Resolve from June 2014 to March 2015.
Aimee A. Filbeck:
SGT Aimee Alleene Filbeck lost her battle on June 20, 2016 at the age of 39.
SGT Aimee Alleene Filbeck was born March 30, 1977 in Memphis, Tennessee. She graduated from North Little Rock High School. In 1995, she moved to Branson, Missouri where she began working as a contract hotel manager and also served on the Lodging Association Board of Directors for many years.
In 2009, SGT Filbeck entered the United States Army and served her country faithfully. She was 1st in everything and earned several awards and commendations. SGT Filbeck was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. In 2015, SGT Filbeck was inducted into SGT Morales Club while deployed in Kosovo. SGT Filbeck was team sergeant for the 763rd EOD Co.
In her spare time, SGT Filbeck enjoyed watching television with her husband and vacationing together. She enjoyed going to the beach and also the shooting range. Most importantly, she loved her family and enjoyed spending time with them.
Brian S. Mancini:
SFC Brian Scott Mancini lost his battle on March 7, 2017, at the age of 38.
Brian was a medically retired Sergeant First Class, Combat Wounded Veteran who served as a Combat Medic with two tours in Baghdad, Iraq. He served over 12 years of Military Service in the United States Army. He was the recipient of two Purple Hearts, the Combat Action Badge, Combat Medical Badge, Air Assault Badge and Flight Medic Badge. He was medically retried in April of 2011 and returned to work in the community where he was born. Brian was a proud Phoenix native and enjoyed volunteering and advocating for healthier Veterans care options and transitional needs, and was the founder of the Honor House. He enjoyed spending time with his family, friends and Fly Fishing
Melissa Jarboe, Founder Of The Military Veteran Project To Give Testimonial On Veteran Suicide to Veteran Affairs Committee Thursday In Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON, DC (April 24, 2017) — Thursday April 27, 2017 at 10:30am, Military Veteran Project (MVP) Founder and CEO Melissa Jarboe will be testifying at the Veteran Affairs Committee to address the concerns of Veteran Suicide.
WHAT: Media Availability to discuss questions and priorities of testimony from Melissa Jarboe.
WHO: Melissa Jarboe, Founder of the Military Veteran Project
WHEN: Thursday, 27, 2017 at 10:30AM EST
WHERE: 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building. The hearing can be streamed live here.
Note to media: Please email email@example.com to RSVP for the availability or if additional accommodations might be necessary for an interview around the hearing.
Melissa Jarboe is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Military Veteran Project, A volunteer-led non-profit founded in 2012, MVP’s mission is military suicide prevention through alternative treatment and research. Jarboe believes and takes a bi-partisan stand on veteran issues and the Military Veteran Project is a non-partisan organization not affiliated with a political party or candidate. On March 21, 2012 Jarboe's husband SSG Jamie Jarboe passed away after nearly a year of fighting for his life after he was shot in Afghanistan by a sniper leaving his paralyzed from the chest down. Jarboe formed the Military Veteran Project to carry on her husband's dying wish to care for his fellow service members.
Jarboe currently resides in Kansas. Her first book, Sacrificed: Memoirs of SSG Jamie & Melissa Jarboe, a critically-acclaimed account of her experiences, advocacy on behalf of veterans and love story was published in 2014.
Since 9/11 it’s not uncommon to see women in conflict areas around the world. Their numbers in the military have increased, and a new study shows their problems associated with war, too, have increased.
A comprehensive study from the Department of Veterans Affairsshows the suicide rate among women vets has increased 85 percent over the last 25 years.
“You had to be really tough, you know. You couldn't take anything less than excellence,” says Dawn Lafferty.
Lafferty says in her 13 years as a corpsman in the Navy she experienced and saw a lot. It impacted her, just like all her female colleagues.
While they had a common bond in the military, Lafferty believes those bonds untie, and looking for understanding in the outside world gets difficult.
“Just think about it. You know if you are sitting with a group of women who have never been in the military, they don't understand what type of experiences have really taken place,” says Lafferty.
There could be something to Lafferty's theory. Even though female veterans commit suicide at lower rates than their male counterparts, it is six times higher when compared to women in the civilian world. And those female veterans are more likely to use firearms in their suicide attempts.
“Veterans in general, both men and women, are obviously going to be more comfortable with firearms than the civilian population. About 67% of veterans die of self-inflicted gunshot wounds,” says Marlyn Scholl, a suicide prevention coordinator with the VA.
Scholl says there is help out there for veterans within the system. In recent years there's been an increase in mental health staff, an expansion of the suicide crisis hotline, and trying to ensure same-day treatment. But the bigger challenge, she says, is getting veterans to take advantage of the programs.
The study also showed this:
“20 veterans die of suicide every day. It is huge. About 6 of them only, 6 of them are in the VA system. So there is this other 14 that are not associated with VA care,” says Scholl.
If you want to know more about the Veterans Crisis Line call 1-800-273-8255. You can also go to a confidential chat at VeteransCrisisLine.net or text 838255.
Battle In Distress
Midwest Float is proud to offer a pay-it-forward program for our active and veteran military service men and women, and actively collaborates with the Military Veteran Project Partnership to help veterans discover floating as one of the therapies available to them.
Active military and veterans are among those who benefit the most from the unique combination of benefits that floating and sensory deprivation offer. In combination with other traditional therapies, it can be an incredible tool for unwinding the effects of PTSD and its many co-factors, such as depression and anxiety. Additionally, the large transdermal (via skin) exposure of magnesium-rich Epsom salts is one of the most effective ways of physically de-stressing the body. Many vets find the solitude of the float tank environment to be a refreshingly different and comfortable space for processing their personal thoughts.
Our #FLOATITFORWARD program provides other floaters an opportunity to give back by donating into a float fund.
Those who are on a Float Club membership can opt to have one of their monthly floats automatically donated into the Float it Forward fund.
Active military and veterans can sign up to be notified when new floats are available in the fund.
Names for assigning Float It Forward opportunities are chosen randomly, and we’ll choose give preference to someone who has not had the opportunity to experience floating before over someone who has already floated. In the event that all subscribed fund recipients have floated before, we’ll simply go down the list sequentially based on subscription date.
No personal identification between giver and receiver will ever occur; this a totally anonymous pay-it-forward model.
Donate To or Receive From The Float It Forward Fund.
To either donate or receive from the Float It Forward Fund, please just send us an email at Floatitforward@midwestfloat.com explaining what you would like, and we’ll take it from there.