I first want to start by thanking everyone who has become such a valuable part to our organization. I am also honored to have the first blog posting on our site. There will be many more blog posts to come from other survivors who are much better writers than myself. For those of you who do not know who we are or are visiting our site for the first time we are Survivors Joining for Hope. My name is Brad Hearst and I am the founder and president of SJ4H. I lost my brother to suicide in 2014 and was inspired by the CAO’s (Casualty Assistance Officers) of the United States Army to help families and individuals who may have lost a loved one to suicide.

My story and probably your own story differ from every other survivor. I lost my brother on Friday, June 13th 2014. For those of you who are superstitious there was also a full moon that night which in my opinion didn’t help the situation. He was a very care free and silly young man. His generosity and compassion for others knew no bound. If he had $10 left to his name and you asked for it he would have given it to you. It was one of his traits I greatly admired and hoped to aspire to someday. My brother also utilized his humor in almost any situation he could. He would do anything and everything to make people laugh. He often would make fun of himself or ease the tension of a situation with his humor.  He also served in the military and was deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon his return from Iraq he met his wife and went on to have a son who is a spitting image of his father. My brother rarely complained about difficult situations and would instead just take care of any problem to prevent anyone else from having to deal with it.

Our family was fortunate that my brother was active duty in the military. As a result we had a CAO assigned to our family. If you have never been exposed to a CAO consider yourself lucky. Their job is invaluable and their recognition is minimal. While we were going through handling my brothers burial and dealing with the grief I was blinded to their value. It wasn’t until after meeting several other survivors  that it became very clear how priceless their presence was. More times than not I’ve spoken to families who either couldn’t afford the cost of a proper burial or were torn apart by the stress the grief places upon them. It began to bother me so much that I knew something had to be done and as a result Survivors Joining for Hope was founded.

Now we are still in our infancy we are growing day by day. Without the support of our volunteers, affiliates and donors we wouldn’t be able to help the hundreds of people that are impacted by suicide each and every day. While we focus on the recovery it is ever so important to focus on the prevention as well. It is my goal and dream that someday we will have to close our doors because suicide has been eliminated from our society. Until that happens we will be here as survivors, helping survivors. Please if you have any questions about or program or are interested in donating or becoming a volunteer don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

Thank you again for your continued support.

Brad Hearst
Survivors Joining for Hope
Founder

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