SFC Michael W Strand
By Ann, Michael's Wife
Michael was born August 8, 1965. He ended his life January 30, 2013.
Michael and I were actually born in same small town in Wisconsin. Die hard Green Bay Packers Fans. I moved away when I was about 8. Came back at 21 and met him. Love at first sight. We got married 2 years later and lived in Kentucky. He had been prior service before we met. I never thought I'd be married to military. But then Desert Storm broke out. The Army called him up and ordered him back into service. He then was sent to Germany. I joined him about 9 months later.
Michael loved being a Soldier. Total rule follower and organized beyond belief. He was the perfect visual of a Soldier. Tall, broad shoulders and always chest out. We spent 5 years in Germany, then to Ft Sill, then on to recruiting. We thought we would retire out there.
We had made a great life. We had our first born son in Germany. We had been foster parents there too. 18 to be exact. He adored the little ones. We then had our boy/girl twins at Ft. Sill. Michael supported me in everything I did. I was able to be a Pampered Chef Consultant and get to be military wife and work at home mom. While in Recruiting we lived in Oklahoma City. We were very happy and loving raising our family. But then Iraqi Freedom.
Michael was ordered back to Lawton and August 2005 left for Iraq. Within 4 months I sensed he changed. He would say words such as "I don't care or it doesn't matter". Mike always cared everything military. He became even quieter. He came home 13 months later. I saw he tried hard to fit in. He struggled with our noise, our active lifestyle and being a family. We then moved to Kentucky. He got the assignment to teach guard and reservist in demo settings. He would be gone 3 months at a time. He became more and more isolated. He finally couldn't handle any more and retired. Michael barely ever spoke much to us, preferred to be alone. The tension grew, things were so different. He wasn't happy any more. Through many incidences I discovered he was using drugs. He had not smoked, drank or even took Tylenol in last 18 years. We fought, I begged, I cried. He just went further into his PTSD. I finally said, "Go in house treatment or move out". Sadly he chose move out. I kept praying he'd hit rock bottom and come home. He lost job after job, he was so not him any more. Then my worst nightmare, he ended his battle with PTSD on Jan 30, 2013. Since that day, not a moment do my children and I not miss him, the old him.
We honor who he was and how he lived his life, not how it ended. I use our experience to help others. My children and I started a gratitude program on Facebook, called “meals from mike”. We want people to thank vets and soldiers with a meal to thank them. This we do to do something to remember his love of military. We miss him and know he's proud of all of us, as we are of him.