A staggering 20 times per day, a United States Veteran takes his/her own life. Our NFM Salute for the month of September features one of those Veterans, Navy Hospital Corpsman Harold Gladden IV. In an emotional tribute, Gladden’s mother Margaret shares her memories of her son and extends a message to other Veterans who may be suffering.

Full Transcript is Below:

– Welcome to our September NFM Salute. I’m your host Greg Sher. On March 24th, 2017. Navy Veteran, Harold Gladden, took his own life at the age of 26, adding to the epidemic that is Veteran suicide. Joining us now to help us honor the late sailor, from Houston, Texas is his mother, Margaret Rollins. Margaret, thank you for being with us on NFM and allowing us to honor Harold.

– Thank you.

– I want to talk about this beautiful smile that we’re looking at right now. He was known as a person who lit up any room he was in. When he was in the zone, he was happy. Tell us more about that Harold.

– Oh yes. He would just walk in a room. He had a big old smile. He liked to joke around, talk real loud. Thought he was the man. He’ll chug a beer with you. He’ll go work out with you. He loved working out. He loved running. Yeah, he was just lovable. He was just a great kid.

– I want to go into what made him serve. He decided to go into the Navy. He joined in 2011. He served for three years. What was the impetus to him joining?

– We were just sitting around and there was a few guys from the Navy that were my boyfriend’s friend, and they got to talking to him, and they said, “You need to join.” He was skeptical. And he was like, “No, I wouldn’t go there.” But you know, they kept on talking to him. And I was there listening and I didn’t think he would, but after a few hours, he told me, “Mom, take me downtown. I’m going to go join the Navy.” And that’s what I did.

– And what do you recall about those three years of serving?

– He loved it. He said he got to see a lot. He got to do a lot and he loved his job.

– So when he was discharged in 2014, how difficult was it for him to become a civilian again? Were there any signs at that time, that things weren’t right?

– Yes. There was plenty of signs. You know, he wouldn’t work out anymore. He was just letting himself go. He was always by himself, in the dark. He wouldn’t talk to anybody. He just kept to himself in the room. So yeah, it was kinda hard. I knew something was wrong.

– I understand you had conversations with him. What was said?

– He told me that he was going to kill himself and I told him not to. I said, “Why are you going to do this? Why are you doing this to yourself?” He said he was just joking. But I could see in his eyes, he’d just like, stared like he didn’t care anymore. And I told him not to play that card. It wasn’t for him. And he looked straight at me and he promised me he wouldn’t. When you don’t got the tools to talk to somebody that’s in that mentality, it’s kind of hard. It is. And I think, like, I didn’t do quite enough. So it kind of hurts.

– Veteran suicide is every bit of an epidemic. You know, 20 of these Veterans commit suicide every single day. Were you aware of that at the time?

– No. Not at all. Nothing about it until my son came home, and I just looked it up and I found it, and he got help, but he didn’t want to take the medication. The day Harold took his life, I was here and we were celebrating my husband’s birthday, and I get a phone call, and it’s my son Micky, and he said he found him in his apartment in his closet. I just fell to the floor. I dropped my phone. I couldn’t believe it. That was a hard day for me.

– Well we’re so sorry for your loss. Our country thanks Harold for his service. And we certainly all have heavy hearts you know, watching you, seeing you, hearing your words. It’s likely there are some Veterans, that may be going through some tough times themselves, watching this interview right now and they’ve got mothers just like you were to Harold. What would you say to those Veterans that are struggling right now – post-service?

– Get some help. Go talk to someone. If you need somebody to hold your hand and take you, I’ll be there. Just go get help. There is help out there. Y’all can get help.

– In his behalf, and in his honor and yours, we’re going to donate $2,500 to the charity of your choice. You’ve chosen Stop Soldier Suicide. It was founded by three U.S. Army Veterans in 2010 that were just tired of seeing their friends and former teammates take their own lives. So a very worthy cause. And we’ll be sure to let them know that that came from you. He would have turned 30 just two days ago. Tell us what that day was like for you.

– It was kind of peaceful. I didn’t shed a tear, like he was there with me, guiding me through that day, telling me it’s okay. He’s in a good place.

– We appreciate your time. And we share your sorrow, and we love you, and we love Harold and your family, and look forward to staying in touch with you, and being another pillar of your support system.

– Thank you.

– That’s Margaret Rollins. She is the mother of the late Navy Hospital Corpsman, Harold Gladden. He is our September, 2021, NFM Salute. I’m NFMTV’s Greg Sher. We’ll see you next time.