Families of the Fallen Stories
The Legacies of Heroes Live On.
Losing a family member in service is devastating. Watch how these families of fallen service members persevered to keep the legacies of their loved ones alive.
After losing two brothers serving in the Army, Monica Velez felt alone and without hope. She had completely lost her identity as an older sister. After being introduced to Travis Manion Foundation, she found her new calling. She became a community resource for those who were bullied and those seeking guidance. Seeing her brothers in all of those she worked with as a Mentor, she felt like a sister again. Since then, she has put her grief into action to ensure her brothers, and others like them, are never forgotten.
Veronica Ortiz-Rivera’s husband, SSG Javier Ortiz-Rivera, deployed four times with the U.S. Marine Corps from 2003 to 2010. After Javier was killed on November 16, 2010, Veronica spent the first several years navigating her own grief and the grief of her three children. Now, a decade later, she has continued on her path of healing by honoring her husband’s legacy through service, most recently by joining a TMF Expedition to Puerto Rico. Alongside other families of fallen heroes and veterans, Veronica helped repair and rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Maria on the island where her husband spent much of his childhood.
Steve and Susan Cavanaugh
After losing their son and fallen soldier, Max, the Cavanaugh family spent a lot of time grieving, unsure how to put the pieces back together. They became part of Travis Manion Foundation, and, as fate would have it, they were able to participate in the Alaska Expedition for surviving family members, which was where Max had been stationed at the time of his death. Returning to Alaska with other families of the fallen was incredibly healing for the Cavanuaghs. After serving a local veteran in need of home repairs, the group capped off the week by conquering their fears and hiking “Gold Star Peak,” which is named for families who have lost a loved one in service.