Lauren Osborne, a retired Florida Highway Patrol officer and U.S. Air Force veteran, drives a vehicle with a customized decal on the back, honoring her brother’s life.
“My brother was a U.S. Marine,” the decal reads. “He suffered from PTSD and committed suicide.”
Osborne’s brother, United States Marine Corps Sgt. Cameron Fraclose, died by suicide in 2014, a painful tragedy that his surviving family and friends will carry around for the remainder of their lives.
The decal encourages people to support veterans and lists a phone number for the suicide prevention hotline.
Osborne knows that her decal is seen regularly, but was encouraged when a complete stranger left a note on her windshield, expressing condolences over her brother’s death.
Osborne told Liftable, a section of The Western Journal, that her brother was changed by his military tours overseas.
“My brother was a U.S. Marine for 5 years with 3 tours overseas, twice to Iraq and his last one to Afghanistan,” Osborne said. “His last tour was the one that really changed him, for the worse.”
After being honorably discharged in late 2010, Fraclose returned home to live with his parents in Tampa, Florida.
“For the next 4 years, he became more increasingly withdrawn,” Osborne told Liftable. “He became a hermit. Never got a job. Pretty much only came out of his childhood room for food and such. He barely made small talk and even when he did, his answers were very vague.”
Osborne clearly remembers the day she learned her brother had died.
“On Saturday, September 20, 2014, when my mother was visiting my husband and I in our new home, about three hours away in Naples, Florida, my father had to stay behind for work,” she told Liftable. “When my father came home, that’s when he found my brother.”
“He took a firearm from the home and shot himself in the head. No note, nothing. There was never, ever any aggressive behavior from him or any indication of violence. There was no funeral service or burial. He was cremated and is back at home.”
Fraclose’s family was devastated, in particularly, his mother, who carried the burden of her son’s death close to her heart until she passed away from cancer.
“My parents never recovered, especially my mother,” Osborne said. “My mother passed away two years ago from cancer and up until she devastatingly passed away, she continued to play the “What if…” game with herself. “What if I did this…” “What if I did that…” She continued to blame herself and was so overcome with grief.”
“She felt as if she failed as a mother to protect her only son, even if it was from himself. It tore her up.”
When Osborne saw the note that a man had left on her windshield, she felt her heart warm with hope.
“Sorry about your brother,” the stranger’s note read. “May God bless him. He was part of a great brotherhood.”
Osborne has no idea who the mystery person was, but she is thankful he took the time to leave a note.
“There’s no way that I could really thank him for what he did,” Osborne told WINK News. “It was really sweet.”
Osborne told Liftable that in a world where people are quick to cast judgment and criticism on those who live with PTSD, the note gave her hope.
“The majority of the people who have no personal experience with someone suffering from PTSD have absolutely no idea what they are talking about when they belittle and harshly criticize someone who does,” she said.
“But when someone unexpectedly offers a glimmer of kindness to show their support, it really touched my heart.”
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