Category Archives: Member Blog

My Thoughts On Veterans Day 2015

Last year I wrote about feeling like a zombie because I was living the life of a three Blue Star mother with my baby deployed. Today I write to you as a mother who has had one of those Blue Stars replaced with Gold. The piece of my heart that was deployed survived that tour and committed suicide at his home in Colorado Springs, CO, August 28, 2015. Sergeant First Class Tyler Milam Westbrook, 31, was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson, Colorado.
There is nothing that prepares a parent for that call in the middle of the night. My worst nightmare has become my reality. I knew he was very troubled — how could I not know??? I am his mother, he was part of me. Recognizing his struggle and not being able to do something was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The intellectual me truly believes I was powerless over the path he chose. The mother in me wanted to intervene to protect my child.
Having the greatest support group in the world and my antidepressant dose tripled is what keeps me going. My time as an anti-war activist has put me in contact with wonderful people on several continents and all the time zones here back me with calls, messages and the invite to call them at any time day or night if I need to talk. My life-long friends and home town of Williamstown,WV along with many from the Mid-Ohio Valley have been the anchor/the rock/the strength that has helped my family start putting the pieces of our shattered lives back together. For this outpouring of love and support I am humbled and forever grateful.
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month 1918 was the end to the fighting between the Allied Nations and Germany in World War I, “the war to end all wars”. It was known as Armistice Day and was to be commemorated with thanksgiving, prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace. Nearly 100 years later our country is involved in wars/conflicts/military actions that result in 22 Veterans a day committing suicide.
This Veterans Day, I will represent Military Families Speak Out at a memorial in Parkersburg,WV. Friends will stand with me as we try and generate participation in a group that truly supports the troops. At noon I’ll see my counselor and work on preserving what is left of my sanity. After that, I’ll be at the Williamstown American Legion to help serve potato soup and ham sandwiches to all the Vets that visit. During, before or after these events I will cry.
Tomorrow everyone will be back to normal, back to work and school. The sun will come up and I anticipate my heart will continue to beat like it has every morning since August 28, 2015. With these constants in place, I have no other choice than to live my life. 22 families have been devastated every day since Tyler’s suicide ripped the heart out the Westbrooks and Williamstown,WV.  I wake up every morning and think about 22 more families and communities being torn apart like we were. I imagine each suicide as a ripple on water and the far reaching ripples over lapping as they spread out. Considering the number of people touched by each ripple, this statistic has to have a profound affect.
We, as a nation, need to stop asking generation after generation to do things under the guise of “protecting our freedoms” that they are not able to live with afterwards. The latest generation of military is a very small percentage of the population and has been asked to sacrifice more than any before. Never ending war is not the answer.
I will “Honor the Warrior, Not the War” along with my brothers and sisters in VVAW. I will support VFP in returning to Armistice Day and as always work to bring them all home.
Peace today and all days,
Marcia Westbrook, MFSO

First American Killed in 4 Years in Ground Combat in Iraq

We are very sad to hear that that since the recent influx of troops and airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, the first US soldier was killed today. This soldier’s is the first American to die in combat in Iraq in four years. And so another American has died in this administrations futile attempt to stabilize a country that we never should have attacked in the first place.

Before more troops and airstrikes were sent to Iraq last year, MFSO warned this administration that if more troops were killed in Iraq, it would likely cause us to slide down that “slippery slope” of deepening our involvement in Iraq. And although Press Secretary Peter Cook called the raid “unique” and said, “US forces are not in an active combat mission in Iraq”, they actually are in combat and we believe this could be the beginning of further involvement. This brings the total of US troops that have been killed in Iraq to 4,494.

Sadly, all this comes on the heels of President Obama’s recent announcement, one we had all been dreading, that he was extending American troops presence in Afghanistan- a decision that looks more and more like we will have our troops there beyond the Obama administration. Please take a moment to read MFSO member Larry Seyverson’s interview, which he conducted  the day after Pres. Obama’s announcement. Larry speaks for all of us when he describes how military families feel about keeping our troops  in Afghanistan and he expresses our despair of being dragged deeper and ever closer into “endless wars”.

MFSO Leader from West Virginia Loses Son To Suicide

We were extremely saddened to learn that Marcia Westbrook’s youngest son, Tyler, died by suicide Thursday morning.  Tyler Milam Westbrook, a member of the Special Forces in the Army,  was stationed at Ft. Carson, CO.  Although we are always aware of the possibility of this happening to each one of us, this news has been devastating to all of us in Military Families Speak Out.

Marcia has been working steadily with the Steering Committee since our rebuild and also serves on the Rapid Response Team, the executive board of MFSO and has had three sons in the military since 9-11.

Cards and condolences to the family can be sent to Marcia Westbrook at:

814 Victoria Ave.

Williamstown, WV 26187

Tyler’s family will be greeting friends from noon until 8 p.m. Saturday, at the Marietta Chapel of Cawley & Peoples Funeral Home, 408 Front St., Marietta. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, at the Williamstown High School Gymnasium.

A complete obituary will be printed in Friday’s edition of the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, or may be viewed at

My Thoughts on Veterans Day AKA Armistice Day

I feel like a zombie. I don’t look dead or crave human brains for my next meal. I must look like my former self because people still recognize me …maybe just older and somewhat detached. I get up each day, do the usual things and go to sleep at night. Life goes on for everyone else and my anti-depressant dose is double what it used to be.

Everything appears normal on the outside, but a zombie resides inside of me. For the ??? time since 9/11 a pierce of my heart is deployed. I quit counting how many times my sons have been deployed. Such is the life of a triple Blue Star Mother.

“Sure I’m proud of their accomplishments”, I reply to well meaning people that ask about my sons.  And, “Yes. They enlisted”, I answer those who are trying to make the point that they must want to be deployed.  But those facts don’t matter a bit to a mother who is worried sick about her child’s life while he is deployed fighting in a war we know should never have happened in the first place .

Today, on the day we used to call Armistice Day, I will honor all my loved ones living and dead at the 11th hour, and pray that every military family finds peace.  Tomorrow I will go back to being a zombie because others who are not carrying my load will go back to business as usual.  I know many of my brothers and sisters in MFSO and other peace groups like Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War will continue doing the work needed to bring peace and I will have to let others carry my load while I am in the zombie mode where I need to stay until I know my son is home again and safe.

That is the way I roll. That is how others I know in Military Families Speak Out roll too. I am eternally grateful for the support from MFSO because they know what is in my heart. Thank you. I couldn’t make it without you.

Marcia Westbrook

Military Families Speak Out

West Virginia