For one man, the Invisible Heroes Initiative is a way to honor his son, and others like him, who died after being honorably discharged from the military.
Kim Openshaw is working on the initiative to pay respect and honor the men and women who served in the military and died after returning home as a complication of their service. This includes soldiers who die from suicide or overdose after being diagnosed with PTSD.
Openshaw lost his son Cody to an accidental overdose after he returned from service and was diagnosed with PTSD. Cody was a decorated soldier who was part of the 82nd Airborne Division.
While families of Purple Heart and Gold Star veterans are frequently celebrated, Openshaw said families of veterans who die after returning home often receive no recognition.
“They’re left to feel embarrassed, angry, lost, forgotten, disenchanted and yet, their son or daughter served our country," he said. "They were heroes, just as much as any veteran is a hero.”
The Invisible Heroes Initiative would identify and celebrate families of these fallen veterans, and Openshaw is working with the governor’s office to move the initiative forward.
He said the initiative will likely begin close to Cache, Boxelder and Rich counties and then expand geographically. It would ultimately provide a sponsored event where these families could honor their loved ones.
“These are the families of the invisible heroes," he said. "And that’s what this initiative is about is identify them, recognize them and provide them with recognition.”
Openshaw said all veterans are heroes and all deserve to be celebrated. The Invisible Heroes Initiative is simply a way to add to that, and honor a group of veterans who have fallen through the cracks.
Openshaw encourages any families who are going through this situation, or anyone who wishes to be a part of the initiative through sponsorship or being involved to reach out to him. He can be contacted by phone at 435-753-7332 or by email at email@example.com.