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Couple's Personal Tragedy Helps to Educate Others

Air Force Master Sgt. Greg Rudl Special to American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Oct. 10, 2008 – No one would have faulted Carol Graham or her husband, Army Maj. Gen. Mark A. Graham, if they had kept their enormous grief private.

Their youngest son, Kevin, committed suicide in June 2003. Seven months later, their other son, Jeffrey, an Army lieutenant, was killed in Iraq.

Instead, the two have gone public with their personal tragedy to teach others about suicide prevention.

In front of more than 100 people at the Army National Guard Readiness Center here Oct. 8, Graham talked about losing her two sons and how it changed her life.

Her appearance was part of the Army National Guard’s Suicide Prevention Program guest speaker series. She was introduced by Alice Nuttall, wife of Maj. Gen. James W. Nuttall, deputy director of the Army National Guard.

“Pain is the price we pay for being alive,” said Graham, quoting Rabbi Harold S. Kushner from his book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.”

She and her family have had more than their share of bad things.

Kevin was a University of Kentucky senior and Army ROTC scholarship cadet when he took his own life. Jeffrey, a second lieutenant in the Army, was readying for a deployment to Iraq. Because of his brother’s death, the Army offered him stateside duty instead. He declined.

On Feb. 19, 2004, while leading a foot patrol in Khaldiyah, Iraq, Jeff Graham stopped his platoon short of a bridge after noticing something out of the ordinary on the guard rail. As he was calling in the report, the roadside bomb detonated, killing him.

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