Memorial service honors fallen - PDF by ggy86211

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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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