NJ's Hero Military Mom - My9 New Jersey

NJ's Hero Military Mom

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No matter how you may feel about the various military conflicts our country is currently involved in, no one can argue the respect all Americans feel towards our military troops and the families they leave behind while in deployment. In many cases, the burden falls on these families while their children are away, leaving parents like Siobhan-Fuller McConnell of Parsippany to feel a sense of duty when it comes to the well being of our troops.

Ms. McConnell is an amazing military mom with an incredible story of resilience in the face of tragedy.

McConnell comes from a long line of people who have sacrificed their lives serving our country. Last year, tragedy hit when she lost her 23 year-old son Army Sergeant Derek McConnell, who lost both his legs after getting hit by an IED while serving in Afghanistan in 2011. After making a miraculous recovery and learning to walk on prosthetic legs, Derek was found dead in his bed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD in March of 2013. The cause of death was an accidental overdose of medication administered by a doctor who McConnell says was not on Derek’s primary care team and wasn’t familiar enough with his medical situation.

Although this instance could have been avoided, McConnell says she feels no resentment since Derek's passing and now has made it a priority for her to help other soldiers in need. When asked where McConnell gets all her strength she said that she’s been strong for as long as she could remember.

“I don’t know. My ex had severe PTSD from the Gulf War, so he couldn’t be there to care for the 5 kids, 4 of them boys. So I had to be, I couldn’t fall apart,” McConnell said.

This week Siobhan plans to visit the family of Aaron Alonso of Jefferson, New Jersey who is also suffering lost limbs. Aaron and Derek’s stories are very similar. Aaron also collided with an IED while serving in Afghanistan, but Siobhan says Aaron’s story doesn’t have to end the way Derek’s did. McConnell even offers advice for families who are watching over the recovery process of their sons or daughters.

“Document everything, write down everything, and question everything. Even if you think it’s minor. It helps in the recovery process. When I first got to Walter Reed, I was lost. One of the military wives reached out to me and told me take a picture of him every day, because as he recovers he will want to see that, but it will be important for the family too,” McConnell said.

McConnell’s journey is far from over however. She has two teenage sons, ages 17 and 18, who also plan to join the military. She says that it's great to know her family is dedicated to military service and she remains an extremely proud military mom. One who is strong enough to always look out for not only her own children, but the children of all military families throughout this country.

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