I am Rochelle Harris. I lost my husband Troy James Harris, an active-duty United States Marine, in July of 2017 on a Sunday that was supposed to be just like any other. I wandered through the days, months, and even years that followed feeling like we didn’t have a place anymore. Then a fellow widow told me about A Soldier’s Child because they had made her kids feel loved. ASC is more than just another name. It’s a foundation that reminds children of the love their country still has for them after their parent sacrificed their all and then some. Whether it’s through a gift, a camp, or a simple reminder of their compassion, they remind families that they aren’t alone. For me, that is more than I could have ever asked for.
Being honored at a recent ASC event, I was able to express the meaning of when you become a family like ours. A family of our fallen. It means the world to me and others, to hear someone speak the name of your husband, a father, a son, a brother, and a friend again who is otherwise seemingly forgotten. It reminds me that there are people out there who understand that one sacrifice a service member made created a hole for their loved ones and that they don’t want that hole to be empty, but rather filled with empathy and kindness from others.
Which leads me to this next statement. It is so important that people not forget our fallen and their families. Once the crowd disperses after they pass away, a lot of us are left with few to no family members, even fewer friends, and the inevitable moving away from the military that once called us their family. When you stop hearing their name or people become afraid to bring them up in conversation, we can sometimes feel lost, alone and forgotten.
While I may be here having lost my other half, the years my children won’t know their dad will only get greater. As their mom, knowing there are people like ASC who never let those kids forget that their parent mattered, means the world to me.
I once read a quote in a book that said, “Why is love intensified by absence?” Maybe it’s because there are people who refuse to let that love fade.
Thank you A Soldier’s Child Foundation.
- Rochelle Harris - ASC Mother
"A Soldier’s Child Foundation has brought healing and joy back into our lives. SSG Justin Washabaugh died on September 23, 2012 after serving two tours almost back to back in Afghanistan. He was 39 when he died, and he spent 18 of those years serving our country in the military. Having four young children grow up without their daddy has been challenging, lonely, and difficult at times, but ASC has made a huge difference in our lives. By sending wonderful ASC packages to my children on their birthdays, we are reminded that people really do care about our loss. Instead of feeling ashamed because they no longer have their daddy, my children now have the privilege of experiencing honor, healing, and joy because of A Soldier’s Child Foundation.
Exciting opportunities open up for ASC children throughout the year as well. My children have thoroughly enjoyed the adventurous Journey Camp that takes place each summer. Making new friends, zip-lining, playing, swimming, singing, and dancing are what they love best and get to experience at ASC Journey Camp. Fantastic mini-camps happen frequently throughout the year as well, which gives my children an opportunity to build relationships with others that have experienced the same difficulties of losing a military parent. Together, these children are overcoming their disappointments and learning to rise above their circumstances. These exciting opportunities are only available because of Daryl Mackin, his family, and those who generously gave to ASC."
Thank you so much,
– Jennifer Washabaugh - ASC Mother
“On January 7, 2009, Corporal Johnathon Tyler Burnette died of non-combat related injuries in the Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In addition to a host of family and friends, Corporal Burnette left behind a three-year old daughter, Jaden, who absolutely adored her Daddy. Just prior to his passing, Corporal Burnette had spent a 12-day leave in Michigan visiting with Jaden over the Christmas and New Year holidays. One evening they watched his favorite childhood movie, Mickie and the Beanstalk. They both laughed and giggled and sang the songs from the movie for hours after the movie was over. We were all laughing and singing the song along with them. Jaden was having such a wonderful time. Tyler helped Jaden play with her Cool School Computer she had received as a Christmas present. They played games on her V-Tech game system that he had given her for her 3rd birthday in September during a weekend visit. She read to him Brown Bear, Brown Bear which she had memorized, and he read to her Don’t Cry, Big Bird which was his very favorite book as a child. They played and sang songs together. She sat in his lap as they watched DVD’s of some of her favorite TV programs that he had given her for Christmas. They spent some very precious time together playing and laughing. Little did we know, this would be the last time Jaden would see her Daddy. When it came time for her birthday to roll around again, memories of her spending her 3rd birthday with her Daddy flooded my mind and, of course, broke my heart.
We had been given an application to A Soldiers Child Foundation and enrolled Jaden in this program. Shortly afterward, I received a very touching phone call from Daryl Mackin, Executive Director of the Foundation. Mr. Mackin was choking back tears as he was discussing my granddaughter and my son. He personally shopped and purchased the gifts that the Foundation sent to Jaden. When her package arrived, her Mommy explained to her whom had sent these gifts. She was very excited that she was receiving gifts on behalf of her Daddy. It wasn’t just a cardboard box containing toys. The box contained several individually wrapped gifts for Jaden to open, and she was very excited with each and every one.
Jaden’s Mommy called me and was very tearful at how special this was for Jaden. Although Daddy is no longer with us, he’s still taking care of his very precious little girl through A Soldiers Child Foundation. Our family sends heartfelt gratitude to this Foundation for what it has meant to our little Jaden and for what it is doing to touch the lives of the children of our fallen soldiers.”
– Rosana Burnette - ASC Mother