NEWS www.FortHoodSentinel.com September 3, 2009 A3 Memorial service honors fallen Fallen BY STAFF SGT. JASON R. KRAWCZYK Warriors III Corps PAO There was little room to even stand once the church had filled STEPHEN A. BLAKE up with Family, friends and 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers to honor the lives of Pvt. Stephen Alexander Blake, 24, of Chicago, Sgt. Vevesi Semu Jr. and Sgt. Ill., died in his Fort Hood barracks room Aug. Otto Waycott. 26. The cause of death is still undetermined at The two served their country this time. honorably and will be missed by Blake entered the military August 2007 as an all whose lives they touched. infantryman and was assigned to the 2nd Squad- Semu was born in American ron, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Samoa and enlisted in the Army Team, 1st Cavalry Division since January 2008. Reserve as an infantryman in Blake’s decorations and awards include the 1996. National Defense Service Medal, Global War on In 2003, he switched to active Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal duty and was assigned to the 1st and Army Service Ribbon. Battalion, 41st Infantry Regi- The incident is under investigation. ment at Fort Riley, Kan. Dur- ing his time at Fort Riley, he deployed in support of Opera- tion Iraq Freedom. In 2007, Semu moved to Fort Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason R. Krawczyk, III Corps PAO Gates, fallen Soldier’s Hood were he joined 2nd Bat- Two Soldiers pay their last respects to Sgt. Vevesi Semu Jr. and Sgt. Otto Waycott at a memorial ceremony talion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, Wednesday. 3rd Brigade Combat team, 1st Infantry Division. He again Family,” said Lt. Col. Daniel June 9, 1988 and enlisted in cott died in a car accident Aug. deployed but this time in sup- port of Operation Enduring Freedom. Semu drowned Aug. Hurlbut. Semu is survived by his wife, Janet; two daughters Tumaulea- the Army as an infantryman in 2006. After completing Airborne 16. “August 16 we lost an amaz- ing man in Sgt. Waycott,” said mother share Ramadan meal 9 at Belton Lake. faoleatua and Talaeu; three sons School, Waycott was stationed Lt. Col. Brett Jenkinson. “There are no words to cap- Riley Fesuiai and Vevesi Jr. at Fort Hood and assigned to “Otto was a great Soldier and ture the lose we feel today, “Untill we meet again Sgt. 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry I never thought a 21-year-old Semu was an outstanding Sol- Semu, we love you and miss Regiment, 3rd BCT, 1st Inf. could motivate me in the way dier and will be missed by all. you,” Sgt. Haqueen Solia, Div. He then deployed in sup- he did. I’m honored to just have BY DONNA MILES It was clear to all who knew friend and comrade, said. port of Operation Enduring known him in life,” said Sgt. American Forces Press Service Sgt. Vevesi that he loved his Sgt. Otto Waycott was born Freedom in July 2008. Way- Kyle Henley. WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and the mother of a fallen Soldier were Soldier overcomes suicidal ideations, among dozens who gathered last night at the White House for the annual Iftar dinner. President Barack Obama hosted the meal that marks a break in fasting during Ramadan, the encourages others to reach out, get help Muslim holy month. Among the ambassadors, members of Con- gress and other guests was Elsheba Khan, whose BY MARY MARKOS Stehr said part of her struggle of Soldiers polled said that indi- successful. Part of that is tear- 20-year-old son, Army Spc. Kareem Rashad USAG Grafenwoehr to return to her ‘pre-deploy- viduals who seek mental help ing down the stigma associated Sultan Khan, was killed in Iraq on Aug. 6, 2007. ment’ self included overcoming are not seen as weak, with one with any illness, any scar, that Khan was among four U.S. Soldiers killed GRAFENWOEHR, Germany the stigma associated with seek- Soldier attributing this to “the you incur while in the Army, or by a roadside bomb that day in Baqubah. They – Capt. Emily Stehr, a physical ing mental health and discuss- change in Army culture.” even before you came in. You were assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division’s 1st therapist with the 2nd Stryk- ing suicide. It is a change, said 2SCR are ours now, and will put you Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade er Cavalry Regiment, is in the “Nobody really wants to talk Regimental Commander Col. in a position to be successful,” Combat Team at Fort Lewis, Wash. “ business of healing. But five about suicide. People don’t James Blackburn that starts with said Blackburn. Khan grew up in Manahawkin, N.J., and was months after returning from know what to say.” the leadership. And Stehr said talking mental 14 when terrorists struck the United States on Iraq, she was struggling with Stehr said. “There’s “Fundamentally, illness and suicide is the only Sept. 11, 2001. He joined the military after high her own internal wounds of shame ... embar- as leaders, we have way to prevent others from tak- school, and went on to receive the Purple Heart war that had not healed. She rassment. I really to recognize there’s ing their life. and Bronze Star, and, Obama said last night, decided to kill herself. thought that I was a challenge, and in “It has nothing to do with “the admiration of his fellow Soldiers.” What stopped Stehr was not weak. I bought into There’s shame this case the chal- being strong or being weak, Khan is buried in Arlington National Cem- the physical pain she would the whole stigma lenge is cultural. you’re sick,” Stehr said. “The etery, where a Muslim crescent marks his grave, have endured, but the realiza- that people who ... embarrass- We are in the pro- correct philosophy is that you’re just as crosses and stars mark the graves of fallen tion of the emotional pain she are suicidal or have ment. I really fession of change, a human, and sometimes crap Christian and Jewish heroes, Obama noted. would inflict on the children mental issues are thought that changing the cul- happens, and you have pain. “These brave Americans are joined in death as of her close friends when their weak,” Stehr said. ture,” he said. But you need to deal with your they were in life – by a common commitment to parents would tell them, “Aunt The Department I was weak. I With the cultural pain. Get help when you need their country, and the values that we hold dear,” Emily in not around because of the Army has bought into the change, Blackburn it. Take care of yourself emo- he said. she killed herself.” acknowledged the whole stigma and 2SCR leader- tionally, mentally, psychologi- The president recognized during last night’s “I was not willing to put that stigma associated ship supported cally. It’s going to make you a Iftar that similar observances were being car- pain on those children,” Stehr with seeking men- that people Stehr in her deci- better Soldier.” ried out throughout the United States during said. “I’d inflict the pain on tal health and has who are sui- sion to talk to oth- Blackburn agreed. “(Soldiers Ramadan. my mom, my dad, all my other taken steps to com- cidal or have ers about her sui- who seek help) are strong. “For well over a billion Muslims, Ramadan loved ones, but those kids, I bat it and suicide in cidal ideations. They’re strong because they are is a time of intense devotion and reflection,” can’t do it.” the ranks. mental issues “I strongly feel able to examine themselves and he said. “It’s a time of service and support for What Stehr did do was check Although the are weak. Emily’s brave move know there’s something wrong. those in need. And it is also a time for family into Landstuhl Regional Medi- number of suicides to share her story Most people generally don’t say, and friends to come together in a celebration of ” cal Center and began the pro- in the U.S. Army with the public is ‘I have a problem.’ And these their faith, their communities, and the common –Capt. Emily Stehr cess of healing. Europe rose from exactly what the folks this population of our Sol- humanity that all of us share.” “I like to think of (suicide) four in calendar Army needs to diers are strong because they Obama recognized contributions Muslims like cancer. I did not even know year 2007, to seven decrease the stigma have the fortitude to do a self- have made to the United States, and the impor- I was sick. I just kept waiting in calendar year associated with examination, and they know the tance of people of all backgrounds to work for me to return to normal, and 2008, the effects of the Army’s seeking help. By stepping for- result. They don’t conceal it, together with mutual respect to achieve shared it never happened. Stuff kept efforts to reduce and eliminate ward, she is showing other Sol- they let it out. That’s a strong goals. escalating until it was either, I’ll the stigma with seeking men- ders they are not alone and it is population, not a weak one,” “Tonight, we celebrate a great religion, and its be dead or I’ll get treatment. tal health were evident in an okay to talk about what is trou- he said. commitment to justice and progress. We honor Looking back I can see the informal poll taken at the U.S. bling them,” Blackburn said. To stay strong, Stehr said all the contributions of America’s Muslims, and whole process, but when you’re Army Garrison Grafenwoehr, “We’ve got to make people Soldiers need to offer support the positive example that so many of them set going through something like Aug. 25. understand ... scars, you’ve got and be willing to listen and talk. through their own lives,” Obama said. “And we that, you’re so blind because Fifty-one percent of nearly 60 them; I’ve got them; we’ve all Stehr further said that it is not rededicate ourselves to the work of building a “ you’re in ‘you shell,’” Stehr said. Soldiers polled said there is no got them. Some are visible. as easy as just asking someone better and more hopeful world.” Part of her healing process longer a stigma associated with Some are not visible. Every- if they are going to hurt them- was coming out of her shell seeking help. Sixty-two percent body deserves a chance to be selves. “It is never that easy. and finding what she called There is no easy about any of the ‘tumor’ or reason for her this. Encourage that person and emotional pain and suicidal be there for them. The more we thoughts. talk about it, the better off we “I had to go back and rout out what was causing the mal- are,” Stehr said. Blackburn encourages Sol- These brave Americans adaptive behavior, the tumor. Ultimately, unless you deal with diers to reach out and get the help they need. “If you are hurt- are joined in death as that, it’s always going to plague ing in some way, if something’s they were in life – by a you. You have to deal with it on your heart, or something’s head-on,” Stehr said. on your mind, reach out ... We common commitment Dealing with the cause of her want you to reach out.” suicidal ideations meant dealing “If you hold it in, it won’t do to their country, and with the anger, grief and emo- you any good. It won’t do your tional pain Stehr said she felt immediate family any good. It the values that we hold after physically leaving Iraq. won’t do your extended fam- “For me, it was an accumula- ily any good. And it certainly dear. tive trauma – watching patients won’t do your battle buddy any die.” Stehr said. “I had a patient good. We are here to help you,” – Pres. Barack Obama kill himself. We lost 33 people Courtesy photo Blackburn said. when we were down there. It is Capt. Emily Stehr, a physical therapist with the 2nd Stryker Cavalry To read more stories of Sol- hard to see again and again and Regiment, contemplated committing suicide after returning from Iraq. diers who speaking out about again ... In my mind, I never She shares her story with others in hope they will see that reaching out suicide, visit www.realwarriors. really left Iraq.” for help is not only okay, it makes you a better Soldier. net.
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