It’s hard to comprehend the personal sacrifices our mothers make for us. The countless moments they give their bodies, their time, their freedom, their hearts, their everything to nurture, protect, and fight for us.
This Mothers’ Day we honor mother and US veteran Christa Garcia-Holland. She is one of the Lionhearted, one of 22 veterans from the Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy who are sharing their stories of sacrifice for their families, community and our country.
Garcia-Holland has always had the urge to help. When she was a kid she wanted to be a veterinarian. As a teen that changed, and she joined the firefighting academy at the young age of 18 to become a firefighter. After graduating from the academy she was still too young to train as a paramedic, so she joined the military. “I went through basic training knowing there was going to be an end to it, like you’re going to get through it,” she says. “So I actually had a good time.”
In 2001, Garcia-Holland was deployed to Kosovo, and after that, Kuwait. She was attached with 27 Infantry and 369 Armor as a medic, and at one point, near the Iraq border, they were given the objective of returning casualties to the Baghdad airport. “Our job was to stabilize and evac them back to a higher echelon of care.”
On their urgent push back they were forced to stop in an exposed area due to a sandstorm, and were engaged in a firefight. A perimeter was set up and a vehicle approached. It was a vehicle bomb. Her friends and colleagues were killed in the explosion. Garcia-Holland was prepared to be a medic and do her job, but nothing prepared her for the images and thoughts that have stayed with her.
When Garcia-Holland left the military, she didn’t know what she wanted to do. “I kind of spiralled out of control, making bad decisions.” She speaks candidly about wanting to end her life, and how she ended up in hospital in recovery.
“I can honestly say my son saved me. That that’s what pulled me out of the funk I was in. I’m still dealing with things. But he gave me hope, he gave me something to live for, when I didn’t think I could live for myself.”
Through the Lionhearted project, Garcia-Holland wants to get the word out that there’s other people that feel similarly. “You’re not alone, in your thoughts. There’s other people that think the same.”
The National Veteran Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.