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Finding strength through Hope - Beyond the Blue

Lynnette Brown, 22nd Contracting Squadron quality assurance program coordinator, discusses a tragic past and her path toward healing Sep. 10, 2020, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. Brown shared the story of her late husband’s suicide and how she uses her story to help others as part of McConnell’s Beyond the Blue initiative. Beyond the Blue focuses on taking steps to normalize the conversations that surround seeking help. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Marc A. Garcia)

Lynnette Brown, 22nd Contracting Squadron quality assurance program coordinator, discusses a tragic past and her path toward healing Sep. 10, 2020, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. Brown shared the story of her late husband’s suicide and how she uses her story to help others as part of McConnell’s Beyond the Blue initiative. Beyond the Blue focuses on taking steps to normalize the conversations that surround seeking help. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Marc A. Garcia)

December will mark the four-year anniversary of the death of Craig Brown, retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt., leaving his wife Lynnette and their two children to live on in his legacy.

“When someone is considering suicide, they think that their family would be better off without them,” said Lynnette Brown, 22nd Contracting Squadron quality assurance program coordinator. “They are so wrong.”

In the years following her husband’s death, Brown struggled with anxiety and depression, which was unusual for her considering she always had a “go-with-the-flow” mindset. External battles followed the internal conflicts and they weighed heavily on her.

It wasn’t until two years after Craig Brown’s death that Lynette Brown’s healing process began. Brown reached out to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors organization where she was offered to be a part of Home Base, a tragedy assistance program.

“I thought I could handle it and was good to go. I thought I could move on and put it all in my past, but I started having nightmares and was unable to sleep.”

Home Base and TAPS collaborate to offer survivors of traumatic loss combined evidence-based treatment for post-traumatic stress and complicated grief. The programs allowed Lynette Brown to connect with other individuals who had experienced the same trauma, allowing her to begin healing.

“I think we’re doing good and moving on, we are trying to find ways to honor Craig,” said Brown.

Since receiving therapy, Brown has continued to alleviate her grief and sharing her story is part of her own personal growth. As a suicide loss survivor, Brown hopes her story can be used to help others and embolden them to seek help.

Brown encourages leadership and friends to reach out and communicate with peers because suicide prevention is the responsibility of everyone. As Airmen, we are committed to building a strong community.

“Individuals who are depressed or in that situation wear a mask, a very thick mask,” said Brown.

Brown said people need to connect with one another because supervisors and friends are going to want to talk to you about concerns you have on any given day, rather than receive a phone call of your suicide death.

There are avenues on and off base that support Airmen that may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, but Brown placed an emphasis on the action of pursuing help to relieve the stresses of life.

“I feel that now I don’t need to dwell on the fact that he did this, but try and help others going through the same situations,” said Brown.

McConnell’s Beyond the Blue initiative takes steps to normalize help-seeking behaviors. These stories communicate struggles and create conversations that go below the surface. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts contact the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, then press 1, or access the online chat by texting 838255.