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After Father’s Suicide, Soldier’s Son Has Mission to Help Others

(Linday Wise, Houston Chronicle)
Timothy Swenson was 6 years old when his father, a soldier, died by suicide at Fort Hood. Thinking to spare the little boy, his mother told him that Daddy had died of a heart attack.

But Timothy’s grandparents, who had been taking care of him at their home in Humble, wanted to be as open as possible. They told him the truth. “He didn’t believe us,” said his grandmother, Judi Swenson. “He said, ‘Nobody was in the apartment when he died. Nobody knows. I know he didn’t commit suicide.’ ”

It took Timothy years to come to terms with how his father died. Now 13 and a student at Timberwood Middle School, he wants to help other grieving military kids heal.

“Let your feelings out. And just, like, don’t hide it,” Timothy advises. “Don’t keep it to yourself.”

For adults, he has this message: “Suicide is not the answer.”

Timothy’s father, Spc. David Paul Swenson Jr., served in the U.S. Army and Texas Army National Guard. He is among a record number of Guard members, reservists and active-duty service members who have killed themselves in the decade since the start of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Their children, like Timothy, grow up grappling with a complicated legacy of patriotism and pain.

“Timmy was extremely close to his daddy,” Judi said. “His daddy was his hero.”
(Read the full story at the Houston Chronicle)

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