Hi, I’m Joe Lewis, CEO of Angels of America’s Fallen. At Angels, we believe as a nation, we should stand by the children of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and communities.
Children of our Fallen after traumatic loss of their parent are at greater risk of anxiety, substance abuse, depression, dropping out of school and even suicide. Military children in particular face unusual circumstances that place them at even greater risk of suicide. In comparison to other kids, children with a military parent are 32% more likely to have suicidal ideations. And if they have them, they’re 65% more likely to develop a suicide plan than non-military children. If a child loses a parent, statistically their risk of suicide doubles. If that parent was lost to suicide, that child’s risk of suicide increases an additional 82%.
What’s been proven to help kids mitigate the risks of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, dropping out of school and suicide? Well, there’s ample evidence through multiple, extensive studies that show children’s participation in music, arts, sports and their interactions with the coach or instructor produces positive effects that help. Music activities for children helps mood improvement, socialization, stress reduction and facilitates grieving.
Participation and arts have shown to be particularly effective in improving self-awareness and self-esteem, which have been shown to have a positive impact on building resilience. Children participating in sports are more likely to eat healthy, have increased social integration, higher teamwork and social skills, higher self-confidence, discipline and emotional well-being, and most importantly, have lowered suicidal tendencies.
Angels of America’s Fallen was formed to engage children of our Fallen in these healthy, positive outlets.
(Video Diary entry by Spouse of Fallen Army Staff Sgt. Clint Loughmiller)
It’s funny how time gets away from us. It occurs to me that we spent so much of our life focusing on our hectic day that we forget to pause and look back on life’s big moments.
One of the biggest was the arrival of our daughter. I can’t believe that Emma is now nine years old. Nine going on 19. One of her favorite photos is when you were holding her up next to your face when she was just a newborn. She has grown so much since then. I see so much of you in her eyes, her expressions, her affection for everyone.
The first few years with her were so hard. I wanted to make all the right decisions. I used to worry so much that I would fail her in some way. I didn’t know it then, but I know it now. Really just fine. She’s beautiful in every possible way. Especially her sensitive and loving heart for others, which she gets from you. She was the beginning of so many amazing moments and I cherished them all.
Today, Emma’s big passion is dance. She loves the stage. Both Emma and I have found an extended family at Synergy Dance Academy over the last six years. Emma’s dance instructors have been there for her in ways that I didn’t expect. She even has a big sister mentor named Jazzy. The two of them have been paired for the last three years.
Looking back, I never thought that meeting Angels would have such an impact in our lives. That moment changed everything. Emma was only three and I was still trying to keep my head above water as a mom.
Angels came alongside of us and helped Emma discover her passion for dance. I will never forget how I felt seeing our daughter on stage every year for recitals and competitions. Dancing is her way to honor you.
And to be honest, Angels has been there for it all. Joe and Shelli have been at every recital and yes, they have become a part of our family, too.
Clint, we’ve missed you so much. Even though Emma knew you for a short time, she keeps you close. You are never forgotten. We love you.
We never want to lose a single child because their parent made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Please join us and helping children of our Fallen avoid the additional risks they face.