Honoring Military Suicide Victims

In this video, Lance Corporal Nicholas Rodriguez’s mom, Anna Rodriguez, describes her frustration that Nick’s name is not included on a local memorial to fallen soldiers.  Anna learned shortly after Nick’s death that the Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, memorial only engraves the names of soldiers that appear in official Department of Defense (DOD) lists of those who died “in combat.” Soldiers who died in training accidents, due combat-related illness, illness triggered by post-traumatic stress, and/or suicide, are not included on these DOD lists.  As a result, they are not included at Schnecksville, or on most memorial walls across the country, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C.  As the Vietnam Veterans Memorial website explains:

Cancer victims of Agent Orange, and post traumatic stress suicides do not fit the criteria for inclusion upon the Memorial. Some have calculated that it would take another two or more entire Walls to include all the names in those two categories alone.

Despite her best efforts to draw attention to this policy, Anna hasn’t succeeded in convincing those that run the Schenksville memorial to include Nick’s name.  But through the Gold Star Mothers, an organization for mothers of fallen soldiers, Anna contacted another Gold Star Mom, Cher Kondor, the founder of the Veterans’ Memorial Gold Star Healing and Peace Garden in York, Pennsylvania.  This memorial honors all vets born or raised in Pennsylvania who were either killed in action or were on active duty and died as a result of wars since 9/11.  Cher says Nick’s name will be engraved on the memorial’s black granite wall this summer.