Monday, June 24, 2024


By Melissa Crandall

It has already been a busy and productive nine months since starting, and it is truly an honor to serve this community. Moving forward, you may see my name as the writer of some news articles. Please don’t worry though, Brad will still be tak­ing the lead and will be back with his crayons again next week. Marine jokes aside, this week’s topic discusses suicide and is a part of observing both Mental Health Awareness Month and Me­morial Day.

Corporal Christian Cotner joined the Marine Corps in 2006 and on the morning of May 30, 2008, died by suicide while serving in Iraq. We were both field radio operators (0621) attached to Marine Wing Support Squadron 172 out of Camp Foster in Okinawa, Japan. Before serving, Cot­ner was in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), volunteered to serve as an honor guards and had a passion for solving Rubik’s cubes. We attended the same comms school class at 29 palms, CA and were assigned our first duty stations together.

Being deployed in a combat zone is very de­manding, mission oriented and an extremely hard location to ask for help. The day before we lost Cotner, I remember laughing while we worked on updating comms equipment. He had also just re­ceived a care package we unboxed together. We were two months into the deployment and I was not aware of any struggles he was facing until it was too late to offer help. Even 18 years later, I still struggle with the sudden loss of my teammate and the consuming guilt and grief felt long after­wards.

Mental health comes in many forms, does not care what age, occupation, or gender you are. As a community, let’s break the stigma associated with mental health and suicide. We all can make a positive difference in someone’s life. If someone needs help, there are resources available 24/7.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Dial: 988 or 1-800-273-8255

Text: 988

Chat: https://988lifeline.org/chat/

There is no shame in asking for assistance or asking if someone needs assistance. You have the strength to ask for or provide help. Talk to some­one, share your thoughts, be a lifeline.

There is hope.

Brad Anderson and Melissa Crandall are the Lake County Veterans Service Officers and can be reached at 218.834.8326 or cvso@co.lake.mn.us

Karen Christianson is the Cook County Veterans Service Officer and can be reached at 218.387.3639, or karen.christianson@co.cook.mn.us

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