Franklin James Cook

SPNAC Back after a Brief Pause for Special Task, Special Guests

In Announcements, Grief on February 8, 2009 at 1:44 pm
Carol Graham shares the I.D. tags memorializing her sons Jeff, left, and Kevin. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson, Denver Post)

Carol Graham shares the I.D. tags memorializing her sons, Jeff, left, and Kevin. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson, Denver Post)

By Franklin Cook, SPNAC Editor

Today marks the longest hiatus between new postings on SPNAC (one week) since its launch. Please accept my apologies, but I had training duties to attend to that required my full attention, namely delivering the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Suicide (AFSP) Survivor Support Group Facilitator Training in Denver, Colo., last week, which was co-hosted by the Veteran’s Administration.

I facilitated the training with Joanne Harpel, AFSP’s Director of Survivor Initiatives. It was the second of two such events (the other was in New York last fall), through which AFSP and the VA have explored providing resources focused on strengthening grief support services for survivors of suicide loss.

More than 25 people attended the training in Denver–most of them survivors of a loved one’s suicide who are either now facilitating a support group or who wish to start one–representing 10 states and including veterans, family members of veterans, and caregivers who, whether or not they themselves have lost a loved one to suicide, are interested in contributing their efforts to the cause.

On Day One of the two-day workshop, we have a working dinner, and last week, we enjoyed a first in the history of the facilitator training when we were joined by two very special guests, Gen. Mark Graham and his wife, Carol, who both delivered brief personal remarks and then spent half an hour answering questions and fielding comments from the workshop participants to give us a better idea of the specific needs of soldiers, veterans, and their families when it comes to surviving the loss of a loved one to suicide.

Gen. Graham is the Commander of Fort Carson, Colo., and Mrs. Graham is a board member for the Suicide Prevention Action Network, SPAN USA. They are the survivors of one son’s suicide and, seven months later, of their other son’s combat death in Iraq. To learn more about the Grahams, here is a Denver Post story about them, and here is recent interview with Gen. Graham from KOAA TV in Colorado Springs.

[The abridged URL for this post is  http://tinyurl.com/SpecialGuests .]

[Related SPNAC post: “National Youth Prevention Workers Praised by Survivor Leaders“]

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