Wounded Warrior event sends powerful message
When a soldier comes home to American soil it's cause for celebration but when the party is over many of them are suffering in silence.
A Hamburg high school graduate who served in the Army suffered so much he killed himself in January. Friday night family, friends and strangers showed his mother their support in Leesport.
Matthew Lempergel served in the Army and went to Afghanistan.
"He loved the military, he loved it," said Lempergel's mom, Crystal Wallick.
Wallick said the war changed him.
"He was kind of like a light switch," said Wallick, "At first, he would tell me he was OK and I would say to him, 'Matthew, why don't you go get help?' and he would say, 'No mom, I'm okay.'"
But his mom said he wasn't OK and didn't know what to do with it.
"He would come out with this quote that he always said, 'Army said a man can't cry. It makes a man weak.'"
His transition to civilian life after a year became too much. On January 22, 2012 at just 25 years old he killed himself.
"The night that he did this he begged me about why couldn't he be normal," said Wallick.
But at the Wounded Warrior Project they say what Matthew Lempergel experienced was normal whether it was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or some other psychological disorder.
"Even at it's mildest form you're talking about one whole year in just anxiety and fear," said Joe Brazzle, who works at the Wounded Warrior Project.
The Wounded Warrior Project tries to help anyone in the military who has served since September 11th, 2001 with visible and invisible wounds.
"That transition just gets harder and harder," said Brazzle, "And that's where we really hope to help in that transition and resetting yourself back at home."
And that's why the fundraiser at the Leesport Farmers Market Friday night in Matthew Lempergel's honor will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.
"I don't want anybody ever to go through this," said Wallick, "I will support this Wounded Warrior Project forever."
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