Remembering that every life is important

Remembering that every life is important

by Kim Suchek
Stripes Pacific

Hello Military community,

Today I am not feeling whole, and I feel off balance. Yesterday our family received news of the death of our brother and fellow veteran and friend Matt Szymanski.

The article I was originally going to write seems so small or bland when you reflect on the big picture of life. Death has a way of making a person reflect upon what is important, what they are grateful for and hope for in life.

While growing from child to adult we are exposed to the basics of life and death. As adults we learn and expect the changes that will and do happen within our life through the years. For example, the gain and lose of friendships, retirement, and change and frustrations within employment, marriage, children and, sadly, divorce.

I grew up understanding what was expected: Find a job, relationships, kids, working hard to retire early, enjoy life and friendships I have made over the years. If I am lucky this will include traveling and writing.

Many are blessed with having a job they are dedicated to. Knowing from an early age in their heart and soul what they were meant to be and those they worked with would be family for life.

Matt was pushed into a medical retirement at an early age due to complications regarding kidney disease. He was a part of our Army National Guard family and deployed several times overseas.

During Operation Enduring Freedom, my husband had the honor of serving and working with Matt during their tour in Bosnia. Matt loved his country and was quick to offer help to anyone who needed it.

An example of his generous spirit was written about in Star and Stripes on April 11, 2011 by T.D. Flack regarding his flight to Misawa, Japan, to help during the clean up after seeing the televised destruction and devastation of the earthquake in Northern Japan.

Sadly, this brings the total loss of life related to suicide and/or PTSD as a result of complications stemming from tours of duty to more than 10.

As a military family we expect the retirements, divorces and, yes, sometimes death. But we do not expect or want our brothers and sisters, our friends who we are in daily contact with, to be suffering – suffering deeply or in silence.

How as friends and leaders can we be so unaware? Has our society, our government and military leaders become so detached and uncaring that our service members are reduced to just a number? Reduced to feeling so insecure and full of fear that they cannot ask for help? Even to the point of not discussing it with friends and family?

This is unacceptable and puts fear in my heart. Who will be next? Will it be the soldier standing next to you? Will it be a best friend or spouse? Change needs to happen, change within the government, even within ourselves.

Please remember, your life is very important. Death affects not only one person; it is a drop of water in a glass that spreads and touches all those around you and who know you. Don’t be afraid to speak out and ask for help. There are many organizations available to assist, who are confident, professional and caring at all times.

Here are a few of my favorite organizations:

United we Serve: Will provide a safe haven for military service members, veterans and family members during times of difficulty and crisis, through battle buddy and family camp retreats. Each retreat offers hope and tools.

Veterans Support Center: Is NOT a government agency and offers a variety of services for military families.

The Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program: Aims to treat combat stress and PTSD symptoms before they worsen and cause dysfunction. For a description of symptoms and further information, visit or call (254) 288-4746.

Women Veterans of America (WVA): Women face their own array of issues after they have finished active duty. WVA is a resource for women veterans and for the families and friends who support them. This organization will provide resources and information on issues ranging from military sexual trauma to the balancing motherhood with service. The WVA site provides assistance understanding military benefits and directs you toward organizations and resources advocating for women veterans. These resources are for current and past members of the military services.

Please remember you can contact me for a resource if those I have listed do not fit with you or your family.

Blessings from my family to yours,

Kim Suchek

If you have any questions or concerns or would like to share a story or situation, contact me at and visit my website at for updated information and other resources not listed in my book.


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