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Memorial in Carbon County planned for veterans lost in 'war at home'

The parents of a veteran who died by suicide want to build a national memorial - not just in his honor, but in honor of all vets who have taken their own lives.

CARBON COUNTY, Pa. — Sally and Mike Wargo from Lehighton had no idea their son Michael was suffering from PTSD until he ended his life in 2013. He didn't tell anyone about it, and his parents say that happens too often. 

"It's a hard subject. People don't want to talk about suicide. They'll talk about homelessness, or abuse, or drug addiction, but as soon as you talk about suicide, the room becomes silent," Mike Wargo said.

That's why they want to build a national memorial for veterans lost to the "war at home," to not only have a place for families to reflect and honor their loved ones but also to get people talking.

The Wargos teamed up with a local veterans nonprofit, the Valor Clinic. The memorial will be placed on the organization's property in Kidder Township, Carbon County. 

Founder Mark Baylis works with vets who suffer from PTSD every day.

"The country needs to understand the scale of the problem, and we're not. I don't think we do, and I don't think the resources are coming to it to study it objectively, and it's troubling."

The plan is to have at least 50 individual pieces with names of veterans on each – one for each state in the U.S. The memorial will also include a one-mile walking trail.

Sally and Mike say they're already hearing from people all over the country who want their loved ones' names inscribed on the monuments.

"We get letters from families - they can't wait until this memorial is finished, so they can sit on that bench and just think about their son or daughter, mother or father, and it's important," Sally said.

The Wargos say their son probably wouldn't like all this attention, but they think he'd be grateful.

"It's going to be beautiful, and I think he'll be happy we're saving his brothers' lives," Mike said.

"I have this idea that when I get to heaven, he's going to wrap his arms around me and say, 'thanks, Mom,'" Sally said.

To donate specifically to the memorial fund, the Wargos say you can send a check to:
P.O. Box 822, 
Brodheadsville, Pa. 18322.

If you would like to have your loved one's name included on the memorial, message the Wargos on their Facebook page or call Mike Wargo at 570-778-5660.

For more information on the Valor Clinic, click here.

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