Dear Uncle

As children, my siblings and I experienced several veteran suicides. Our uncle, a U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) veteran, killed himself after two tours in Vietnam. Our devastated mother imploded our family from the blast he left. With his widow, they drank the pain away, putting us in danger. A couple of years later our grandfather, a USMC WW2 Vet, died by suicide. Then his brother, also a USMC veteran, took his own life as well. My brother is a Navy veteran of the Gulf War, and my sister is married to a USMC vet, who now works for the United States Forestry Department. My siblings and I are writing a book to detail the aftermath of our childhoods that was kicked off by our uncles' and grandfather's suicides.
Below is an excerpt from our book. It is less narrative than the whole work, but a letter I inserted into our story to best explain how a child saw the suicide of her uncle. It is harsh. Thanks for reading and feel free to reach out for an interview or to use excerpts from our book. I am grateful for your work to end veteran suicide.
22 a day is devastating for American families.
Ginger T Rex

Dear War Hero & uncle,
Don’t worry I took all the night duty shifts for you, I was on guard. I was big, so I could babysit. I gotta watch out for all of us kids. I was tough like you as the parade of predatory men and boys tried to harm us. The moms thought they were there for them, but you know how those guys are. There were no daddies around, because... oh yeah.
Did you know you left me, a nine year old kid, to stand guard? I was pretty pissed at you. In my war I had to keep one eye open because the enemy never slept. Neither did I. I just stopped sleeping because at night the dangers were creeping. I fed the little kids with scraps and made it last, controlling portions for your babies. I had mouths to feed because you were... There wasn’t enough money to go around for make-up, outfits, cover charges at bars, booze, and oh yeah- food for 5 kids. Don’t worry, I could make it stretch.
...How was I recruited by you? I never signed up to stay up all night and protect little kids while they slept. I didn’t have a weapon, no division, no training. Your death took our mom who was inconsolable, unwinding and leaving. Left my dad with no foot in the door and our family extinct. All of us were no more.
I was put on a solo mission that you designed. You sent everyone away with the blast you left behind, Mommies went out to drink your memory away.

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