FAULKER COUNTY, Ark. – The last Sunday in September is recognized as Gold Star Family Day.
Sandy Isom is a mother of a veteran who didn’t die in combat, but says died battling a fight no one could see, and is now raising awareness for the trials veterans go through when they come home.
Ryan Isom, Sandy’s son, was a marine and completed two tours in Iraq.
“He was just a remarkable person,” Isom said.
Her son died by suicide in 2021, shortly after his wife died following a brief illness.
“Even though our child didn’t die in combat, they still died in their own combat, they fought every day to keep on living,” Isom said.
Ryan’s son, and Isom’s grandson, Kayden, lives with her and she says he participates in mentoring groups through organizations like Tuesday’s Children, who support families of fallen soldiers.
Isom herself leads grief support groups to build community with other mother’s going through the same heartache.
“It’s tragic because it’s a club you never wanted to belong to, but at the same time it’s nice to be around other people that just get it,” Isom said.
Isom said it was hard to find support for Ryan and she hopes sharing her story will create more resources for veterans and veterans’ families.
“I kept searching and searching and searching for things that would help military that had been discharged, whether that was adjusting, mental health issues, whatever, and it’s difficult,” Isom said.
Isom says there is a stigma around this subject, but with her therapy dog buddy by her side, she aims to be a voice for everyone experiencing the loss she has gone through.
“We need to be there for them, and if you know a veteran, or they call you, take the time to talk to them,” Isom said.
Isom says everyone who has served is a hero and looks forward to continuing her work in raising awareness.