'Like An Airborne Disease:' Concern Grows About Military Suicides Spreading Within Families

Jan 28, 2013

Before Army Spc. Andrew Velez left Texas for the final time, he asked his fragile sister to write him a promise – a vow he could carry with him to Afghanistan.

Monica Velez knew she owed him that much. In the horrid weeks after each had lost their beloved brother, Freddy Velez, to enemy fire in Iraq, Monica tried to end her life with pills and alcohol. Now, she put pen to paper: “I will not hurt myself. I will not do anything crazy. I know that Andrew loves me. I know that Freddy loved me.” Andrew folded her note and slipped it into his pocket.

“Don’t break your word to me,” he told her before heading back to war.