Kristen’s first husband, Don Christy, took his own life just days before officially becoming a colonel in the United States Air Force. Kristen still remembers answering the door to a chaplain and the El Paso County coroner, delivering the terrible news. His death devastated the entire family, including their two sons, Ben and Ryan.

For years, the family mourned their loss, and the impact of Don’s death rebounded in their lives in different ways. In the aftermath, Kristen turned to the community for support, a response she learned as a military child when her family moved every two years. Today, she still struggles to understand — but she also works tirelessly to make sure other families don’t experience the same loss and pain she went through.

She tells her story over and over. Of the voicemail her youngest son left sobbing about his dad, about the struggles of her other son’s substance abuse and bipolar disorder. He disappeared in 2015.