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My Story of Struggle & Success

On Mother’s Day 2022, Jess was at a youth soccer tournament when she received a phone call from a stranger in Germany that has forever altered her life. Her brother, the person she promised to protect, a decorated combat vet of Afghanistan and Iraq who recently agreed to rehab in Landstuhl for PTS, TBI and alcoholism had died alone, by suicide.

  Things don’t happen to you; they happen for you.

What a tough pill to swallow as a parentified child. Zach’s childhood best friend had a brother my age so the four of us were often one shuttled mini-van unit. Their family had a membership to the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the brother even knew what section to sit in for the best odds at being picked for guest trainer at the dolphin show. First time there and they picked this string bean with gap teeth and awful hair…. So, what did I do? I passed the opportunity to him. At that moment, I was hell bent on being a marine mammal rescuer and it didn’t matter if my college savings fund dissolved, or I graduated high school in a landlocked state I was going to do it. As a child I believed…. If you want something enough, just work hard and it will happen!

My life course seemed so alien to those of my peers.

My Dad (Randy Brown) returned from a Russian business trip to die that evening from natural causes, or an asthma attack. My Mom (Cheryl) never recovered. Grief and undiagnosed mental heath concerns stole her before the pain killers did. I was legally emancipated in 2002.

I had friends and family that loved me but moving around frequently, I struggled to define “home” and my people. Often, I’d prefer to pick up doubles on holidays despite having invites to their table. I felt I was an inconvenience or a reminder of my parents. I was financially on my own and had to get very savvy to gain that biology degree. Grocery store, retail, lifeguarding, camp counselor, none of these had the others or potential income of the restaurant world. Losing my parents… Taught me life wasn’t fair.

When my brother (SFC Zachary M. Brown) passed, the world around me kept moving and I was shell-shocked.

Having to navigate this tremendous loss opened my eyes to how potentially inefficient mental health, trauma, and/or addiction support can be to our warrior active duty, veterans, and their families and furthermore their loved ones left to handle the aftermath. When I learned Zach’s wife (Kelley) and his close friend (John) courageously reported his isolation, hygiene loss, and ideation to superiors and the Army STILL didn’t act with urgency…. I knew I was called to share his stories. When I learned every day there were at least 22 families mourning this same loss of their superhero, I felt powerless. Getting uncomfortable sharing my story, saying goodbye to my previous self, and meeting accomplished mentors who encouraged me to dream big was game changing. As I anxiously presented, less than a year after Zach’s passing, at AAS23 in Portland, I knew I would never be healed but there was an entire world out there that our loss mattered to. And then … losing my favorite person taught me I could be a light to other military suicide survivor loss families.


Being a student at the school of hard knocks, I entrenched myself in books, trainings, podcasts, I began interviewing other survivors and the gamete of individuals that coin themselves healers to learn anything! I would be honored to be a ripple in helping you with your very specific, individual loss. Being honest and vulnerable is difficult but not nearly as difficult as living in a society where our loved ones are not acknowledged because of their manner of death!

Holding you so close in my heart. I know we can make it through this…. TOGETHER.

Love, Jess

I may have had FOMO experiencing my twenties from the “working side of the party” and I often felt like a failure. If I had a morning shift at the bar and only had 2 customers after the lunch rush I had nowhere to go and I forced myself to ask these souls their stories. Bartending provided self-sufficiency and taught me the most important to listen…. Every single life is a beautiful, cherished soul, and we can connect with ANYONE if we listen!


When my first child was born, speech did not come naturally. We did everything advised and still, minimal progress. Despite harmful advice (wait it out or Einstein didn’t talk until age 5) finally she got the diagnosis that changed the way we approached speech therapy and BAM she now can pronounce all sorts of igneous rocks. And because who doesn’t love irony, then she was joined by two younger siblings with the same motor planning disorder whose treatment is not covered by health insurance… Childhood Apraxia of Speech taught me how to advocate!

What do you see? Three smiling, hyperactive children who are almost perfectly planned 2.5 years apart? This picture doesn’t show all the failed attempts that made these beautiful souls my roommates. In June 2021, I went in for a routine ultrasound at 21 weeks with my second son (Oscar) to find out he had passed weeks earlier and I’d need to schedule his labor. Losing my fourth child and getting diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress, again, taught me… healing skills need to mature and I bravely started ACT therapy.”

Certifications/Trainings (ASIST & Deathwives)

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