Silver Linings

Silver Lining Memorials

Easing the Emotional Pain

Silver Lining Project

Lifting Financial Burden

 

Both our Silver Lining Programs for the families of Veteran suicide work together. Bringing light into their dark times, Once a Soldier is the only nonprofit as of now who is solely dedicated to these families in these two ways.

Our Silver Lining Memorials are written by the families themselves. Moving past that final memory of their loss means the world to our families. Simply by asking them to consider writing a Silver Lining to their sons and daughters get them thinking differently about their life together, not just the end of it.

The Memorials start to emotionally heal some of the wounds. We’ve seen great joy overcome our families when asked to write about their son. They rise to the task and we feel it lifts their heavy hearts as well as ours.

We aspire to create an archive of uplifting memories of loved ones lost to soldier suicide and PTSD, and to build a community of those who’ve lost their loved ones in this way. That’s our Silver Lining to offer. Please support us.

Our financial aid program is our Silver Lining Project. Our goals as a start-up are modest. Luckily so are our overhead costs. As we grow, we will be adding more families to the fold to do more good and to build a network for them. 

Our goal for 2019 is to gift one family per month. Scaling up the Project is easy, as we can invite more families into the community and hope to ease their pain, as well. Most of the families are not financially equipped to take on the sudden burden. They take out bank loans and go into credit card debt.

Please use the comment box below to submit your memorials. Include anything you’d like to about the life and times of your loved ones. Once a Soldier staff will review all content and make it available for viewing.

If you’d like to include photographs, please send them to onceasoldiercharity@gmail.com. Please also let us know if you’d like to make your email address known so others can contact you.

Silver Lining Memorials

Their Story is More Than the End

Cedrick A. Taylor written by his Mom

Cedrick was a big sports fan. Baseball was his favorite sport (Yankees all the way). He played baseball for two teams for several years. He would play for his school team, eat and change in the car, then we would go onto his second game for our local club. Two games a night on several occasions and he loved it.

Cedrick was also a very caring and loving brother. As a kid he always took care of his younger brother AJ and sister Jackie. Jackie and Ceddy looked exactly alike. Both had same face and green eyes. She has a problem looking in a mirror now – all she sees is her brother. They were extremely close. He made us all laugh, was so funny, quick witted, and full of energy. We went to every fort where he was stationed, except Korea and Iraq. His wife did travel to Korea and stayed a few months. As you can see, his smile was warm and loving.

Cedrick also loved music. My husband is a drummer and Cedrick was his best friend. They often would go to concerts in CT, Georgia & Florida. They traveled to California together to hear different bands and meet band members. He told us it was some of his happiest memories, traveling with his father. You would always find him with an iPod or some type of music. His first correspondence from Iraq, he asked for a CD player & some “old school” music. When he came home he sat behind his father’s drums and they had a ball. Oh, and fishing. He fished since he was a little boy. As he grew, he and his father would fish anywhere, anytime. Small streams ( in Connecticut and Fort Stewart with the gators) to renting deep sea fishing boats in Georgia, the mountains of Arkansas with his uncle & aunt. We all went to Tybee Island and the Florida Keys with Cedrick as our guide. He brought us everywhere. Great family man.

My son was extremely proud to be a soldier and so, so proud of his uniform. He respected his peers and made lifelong friends. They still call us and come to visit if in the area. My husband is also a member of the email group w/ his friends and normally they don’t allow civilians. But they all wanted him to be a part of Cedrick’s group.

Cedrick had one child, Leah, now 13 years old. She lives in Hinesville, GA. She was his heart for sure. He taught her how to swim as soon as she walked. She now is an avid swimmer and loves the water. She & her dad did everything together. They fished, played sports, etc… She now runs (like her dad), plays softball (like her dad) and is a fishing maniac. When he got divorced she lived with her mother during the school year & her dad all summer. They traveled, fished, etc…They came to Connecticut every year for the past four years for the summer. He took her everywhere ice skating at an indoor rink, hitting & playing baseball, running in the park, going to amusement parks, and museums, etc. He will be missed.

Jarod Johns written by his Mom and Dad

From Kathy, Jared’s Mom:

This seems like an almost impossible task to even do as the mother of a fallen soldier. I say that because PTSD is what took my son so I don’t look at it as a suicide.

My sweet Jared was passionate about a lot of things in his life. He was passionate about music and singing in the choir at church. Being in the chorus and drama club in high school. As passionate as he was about those two things he was just as passionate about football and playing softball.

Jared was a well-rounded person before joining the Army. He had his head on straight and he was very focused. It was never the same when he came back from Germany and Afghanistan. He was never my sweet Jared again. After he had his sons though, it helped him tremendously  to start becoming that same compassionate person that he once was and it appeared that he was winning the battle with PTSD.

The very last night that he was over here at my house and I had cooked dinner for everyone, we sat in my living room and I was holding Kylan, Jared’s nephew,  which was my newest grand baby. I began to rock him and sing an old hymn entitled “He Leadeth Me”.

Jared began to sing along with me, as well as his sister, his twin brother, and my husband and we all sang the entire song together sitting in my living room. It would be the very last time we would ever be together as a family with Jared alive. I will forever cherish that moment because little did I know that it would be my very last time singing with my sweet Jared. I could go on and on about my son, but there isn’t a lot more to say that I can focus on because he was just a sweet compassionate, loving soul that loved his country, and loved his family but he was fighting a dark battle from serving this country that in the end took his life.

I shared the link to a video of when he surprised me by coming home. It says a lot about who he was and how very much he was loved. And will be missed.

 

Click here to see the video that’s gone viral with over 3.5 million views of Jared surprising his mom.

From his father Kevin:

As a boy, Jared was an avid baseball player who also enjoyed playing the drums. His real passion was singing. Our whole family is musically talented, so it came natural. One of the highlights of his senior year in high school was being able to bring his mother on stage with him to sing the song,  “It is well with my soul”. He loved watching  football and was a fan of the Clemson Tigers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. One of my last conversations with Jared was about the Bucs’ victory over the Saints. He has a twin brother, Jacob, who shares his love of football and the Buccaneers. (Just not the Tigers!). Jared and Jacob were roommates and unfortunately, Jacob found his brother on that sad day.

One of my happiest memories of Jared was recently, in Mid- August of 2018, three weeks before his suicide. We went to the NASCAR Xfinity Series Mid Ohio Challenge in Lexington, Ohio.  Every year we go there to my brother Gator’s house, to meet my other brother, Steve (SC), and my uncle Ray (Orlando) to have a guys weekend. The race is practically in my brother’s backyard. So close, that we drive his two John Deere Gators and a golf cart to the track. There were about 50 family and friends that tailgate together on the inside of turn #6. At one point during the race, me and Jared were so close to the cars as we stood next to the fence that you could feel the wind in our face as they raced by. I remember Jared turning to me and saying, “Dad, this is so awesome.”

The most important thing in Jared’s life was his sons, Jaxon and Liam (Germany). Liam was born in Vilseck after he left the army in October 2015. Jared visited him in May of 2018. Liam bonded with him instantly! For two weeks, he got to make up two years of time with his 1st boy. Which is evident, by the hundreds of pictures and videos he shared on his facebook page. Jaxon was born in April 2017 and lived with Jared. He took his 1st steps just six months ago. Jared liked to dress him up in matching jerseys on game day.

Until I see him again, I will make sure Jaxon wears his colors every Saturday and Sunday!

LTC Robert N. Zaza written by his wife

Life is unstable, redemption is possible, confidence in HaShem is conditional. We live precariously, we die certainly, we plan accordingly to our spiritual reality of the everlasting life.

My family have been through a lot together over the past years; marriages, births, deaths, risks, sacrifices, fulfillment and disappointments; wars and peace, good times and hard ones. Days when we were generous, kind and patient.

My Robert was half Jew/half Christian.

With love I called him my Mousy. He was funny, and a fun person. He had a beautiful smile that I hardly can’t forget and it broke my heart that I won be able to see it again. A Patriot, hero, a man of focus, commitment, sacrifice and integrity to his job serving his country; loving father and very supportive husband. He was a good servant of God. He was well educated and a gentleman. He was a human.

“Let’s all become more human in God’s image and likeness and be less like robots with proudness.”
Our relationship was decent, humble, lovely, close, faithful, trustful with care but now his absence is very challenging for me.

About this I feel stronger and weaker at the same time; at the same time I feel overwhelmed, with courage and terrified at the same time. I feel betrayed, abandoned, alone, confused, in shock. The truth is I don’t know what I feel, except I know I loved and forgive my husband. I hope he forgave me too. I know what kind of person I am and I know where I came from and where I belong to.

For me that knowledge, kindness, love and wisdom are powerful gifts from God. To think that we used together all of these incredible, wonderful knowledges to cultivate a life full of relationship with love, to teach our children -understanding that they belong to God; having hard works, studies, projects, tikkun olam and hobbies that gave us room to exist in this world as humble human beings, but never using the word “proudness”.

We do not want to be ignored and forgotten from people who know us.

I was not born to hate but to love and forgive.

 

Heavenly Father, have pity on my, I am a sinner and your servant. Have pity for my husband Robert because he had ended his life.

I humbly ask for you to forgive him for whatever circumstances force him to take this decision to leave the mortal life. I ask for your Divine Justice that may provoked his fears. Have compassion on him, give him your Divine Love and your Holy Peace. Guide and let him walk with you to heaven.

Heavenly Father, Forgive him as our children and I forgive him too.

Help me to be in peace with your compassion and without judgement.

I have a strong Faith on you My Lord, my Heavenly Father. Guide, protect and bless us! Please reward me by reunite me with my husband Robert when your Glory Kingdom comes.

We are very thankful for your eternal love and blessings, in the name of Yeshua HaMashiach, Malkeinu. Amen. Y. Zaza

 

Robert's Obituary - written by Robert

His obituary, written by Robert:
LTC Robert N. Zaza served as the G3 Section Chief, in support of United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command, located at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Prior to his current assignment, he served as an Army Space Support Team Leader, 1st Space Battalion.

 

LTC Zaza began his military service in November 1983.  He enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at The College of William & Mary, where he received his commission in July 1985.  He entered active duty in September 1985 and attended the Armor Officer Basic Course. He served as a platoon leader and company executive officer in Cavalry squadrons, in support of the U.S. Army Armor Center and School, Ft. Knox, KY.  After serving in Armor for four years, he applied for a Branch Transfer to the Military Intelligence Corps. There, he served as an Infantry Battalion S2 at Camp Casey, Korea; Division Electronic Warfare Officer, Division Counterintelligence Officer, Assistant MI Battalion S3, and Aviation Brigade S2 at Fort Hood, TX. After his service at Fort Hood, he left active service and entered the Army Reserve.

 

While serving in the Army Reserve, he continued serving in the Military Intelligence Corps and obtained the Space Operations Officer specialty.  His reserve assignments have consisted of Counterintelligence Officer at U.S. Southern Command and the 376th MI Battalion (Linguist), Battalion S2 and Observer Controller/Trainer with the 91st Division (Training Support); Army Space Support Team Leader, 1st Space Battalion; and Doctrine Writer and Operations Center Chief, USAR STRATCOM TPU. During his Army Reserve service, he was mobilized in support of Operation Noble Eagle from 2001 to 2003, and deployed twice to Afghanistan to lead Active Component Army Space Support Team 4 at Combined Joint Task Force 180, Bagram Air Field.

 

His professional military education includes: the Armor Officer Basic Course, Military Intelligence Officer Transition Course, Military Intelligence Officer Advanced Course, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, Space Operations Officer Qualification Course, and Space 300.

 

He has been awarded four Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, four Army Commendation Medals, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, four Army Achievement Medals, four Army Reserve Components Achievement Medals, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” Device, the National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korea Defense Service Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Award, the Air Force Senior Space Badge, and the Air Force Master Space Badge.

 

LTC Zaza holds a holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from The College of William & Mary and a Master of Science in Space Systems Operation Management from Webster University.  He is married to IsIsh Damav Zaza (Yishav Kohen).  They have two children, Michal (Miki), and David (Bentzi).  He moved to Rio Rancho, New Mexico in 2010, and worked as a contractor and a civilian employee for the U.S. Air force.

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