I got the below letter from a lady that I appreciate and respect more than I can find words to say. She’s one of the most amazing and brave people I’ve ever met. She was the first person to help me get Frontlines of Freedom started; she helped on-air for a while and helped me find other volunteer helpers. She created and published our e-newsletter for years. Then she married a very sharp (and lucky) Army vet, Tim Barber, and is going on with her life. Audrey is one of my favorite people; please support her.
My name is Audrey Barber, and I used to volunteer with Frontlines of Freedom, putting together the e-newsletter. Denny and I met in a very unique situation. My first husband, SPC Brandon Stout, was deployed to Bagdad, Iraq, and on January 22, 2007, he was tragically killed when an IED struck the HUMVEE he was driving. As my life was spinning out of control, I was searching for new meaning in my life. An opportunity arose when, through an organization called ESGR (Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve), set up an award ceremony. The ceremony came about because my husband, before leaving for Iraq, had nominated his boss at the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) in Grand Rapids, for the “My Boss is A Hero” award—which is awarded to bosses/organizations who show support to guardsmen and reservists. My husband’s nomination was chosen after he was killed in Iraq. I wanted to see it through that his boss still received the award, so ESGR went forward with the plans. I was able to present the award for my late husband. At that award ceremony I had the pleasure of meeting Denny Gillem, and he was just beginning Frontlines of Freedom. I told him I wanted to help in any way I could. It presented me with the opportunity to do something in my new life while supporting the military. Denny and I have been part of the Frontlines of Freedom “family” ever since that day.
After my first husband was killed in Iraq, I sought help from an organization called TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors). TAPS is a national, non-profit veterans’ organization that reaches out to families and loved ones who have been impacted by a death of a loved one in the armed forces. The heart of TAPS is its national military survivor peer support network and its focus to help and support families, friends, and military personnel as they cope and recover. TAPS provides these services to survivors from all branches of the service available not only for immediate family, but also for extended family and friends.
On October 20, 2013, I will be participating in the Army Ten Miler Race. I will be running in memory of Brandon and in support of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). The funds I raise will flow directly into TAPS programming which supports these families through an amazing network of resources, seminars and publications. If you are interested in learning more about TAPS, please visit their website: taps.org. If you would like to donate to an amazing organization and sponsor me in my run, please visit: tapsrunandremember.org/atm/audbarber. No gift is too large or too small.
Thank you for your support!