I am an American
We are One Nation
Each week, this series will introduce you to an exceptional American who unites, rather than divides, our communities. In this installment, read about Robin Kiepert, “a mother, a wife and a veteran” who is an advocate for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Each week, this series will introduce you to an exceptional American who unites, rather than divides, our communities. To read more about the American profiled here and more average Americans doing exceptional things, visit onenation.usatoday.com.
Robin Kiepert describes herself as “a mother, a wife and a veteran.”
These days the Merritt Island, Florida, woman can add another title: post-traumatic stress disorder awareness advocate.
“My youngest son, Terrance Jeffery O’Hearn, was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Kiepert, who served eight years herself in the Air Force. “When he came home after his discharge, it became very apparent that things had changed for him. He was diagnosed with severe PTSD and ultimately took his own life.”
O’Hearn was 30 when he hanged himself in his California apartment in 2016.
O’Hearn was being treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, but for privacy reasons, the VA couldn’t share details of his condition with Kiepert.
About a year after O’Hearn’s death, Kiepert decided
she needed to do something to help bring awareness of how large a problem PTSD is for returning soldiers.
Kiepert started a Facebook community, “Linked Arms for Veterans,” for people to share their stories of struggling with PTSD.
As she started to speak out about her
“I would like to see that people are aware that it is happening ... that it is happening in the community.” ROBIN KIEPERT WORKS TO RAISE AWARENESS OF PTSD-RELATED SUICIDE
experience, Kiepert was surprised to find that there were still lots of people who were not aware of the problems with veterans and active-duty military members committing suicide.
Earlier this year, she began to think about ways to increase awareness. She found her inspiration in Ohio.
Howard Berry is a Cincinnati man whose son, Staff Sgt. Joshua Berry, committed suicide in 2013.
In March, Berry planted 660 Ameri- can flags on a hillside overlooking the Ohio River — one for every military member or veteran estimated to commit suicide each month.
Kiepert is hoping to set up a similar display near her home on Florida’s Space Coast.
“I would like to see that people are aware that it is happening … that it is happening in the community, that it is happening to people in their neighborhood.”