LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 6, 2020) People have many reasons for wanting to support the University of Kentucky, but for retired U.S. ArmyMaj.Gen.Mark A. Graham and his wife, Carol Graham, the reason is deeply personal. When the Grahams lost their two sons within a year of each other, the loss was devastating for their family, but with love, encouragement, and determination, they turned tragedy into purpose and created something positive out of unimaginable loss.
Jeffrey and Kevin Graham were following in their father's footsteps pursuing a career in the military. Jeff, a 2003 graduate of the UK College of Engineering, was a second lieutenant in the Army. Kevin was a senior ROTC cadet and straight-A student with plans to go to medical school to become an army doctor. Their younger sister Melanie, also a UK student, pursued a bachelor's degree in nursing.
However, fate stepped in and Jeff and Kevin lost their lives fighting two very different battles. Kevin lost his battle to depression in June 2003. Less than a year later, Jeffrey was killed by a roadside bomb while leading a foot patrol in Iraq in February 2004.
Mark and Carol Graham decided that rather than allow the loss to define their lives, they would treat it like two bad chapters of their lives.
The Grahams established the Jeffrey C. and Kevin A. Graham Memorial Fund to support the suicide prevention program at UK and remain tireless champions of military and civilian efforts to promote mental health and suicide prevention. They also support the 2nd Lieutenant Jeffrey C. Graham Memorial Scholarship at the UK College of Engineering. Their gifts support the goals of Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign, UKs $2.1 billion comprehensive campaign focused on increasing opportunities for student success, funding innovative research, improving health care, strengthening our alumni network, and supporting our athletic programs. More than halfway to its goal, Kentucky Can is transforming the quality of life for the people and the Commonwealth UK serves.
"We were so broken," Carol Graham said. "The UK community rallied around us after Jeff and Kevin's deaths. We felt the love and support of this amazing campus from the top down. Students, faculty and staff held a candlelight vigil for Kevin and Jeff. When I close my eyes, I go back there and still feel the love that surrounded us. They wanted to help us carry our pain and it was one of the sweetest moments of our lives. Our boys' lives have meaning, and they won't be forgotten."
With the support of two of Jeffrey's UK Engineering classmates, Lee Carlisle and Ulric Kulik, friends, familyand UK alumni, established the 2nd Lieutenant Jeffrey C. Graham Memorial Scholarship at the College of Engineering.
"Jeff truly loved engineering and looked forward to using the skills he learned at UK to help the people of Iraq," Mark Graham said. "He said on the phone one night, 'Dad, we are making a difference here and when things calm down, I am looking forward to using my engineering education to help these people rebuild their country."
Lee Carlisle says that he and Jeff hung out together in study groups and remembers him fondly as being funny and really nice.
"After he was killed, we were all really sad at the funeral and thought it was such a shame that he didn't get to use his engineering degree. We thought the best way to pass on the sacrifice he made would be to help future engineering students realize their dream. We would be passing on his legacy to others," he said.
Carol Graham says that one of the most rewarding things they've seen come out of the engineering scholarship is to see the hopes and dreams in the eyes of the recipients. They attend the scholarship ceremony every year and meet the recipients. On the rare occasion when they are unable to attend, another family member goes in their place.
"Jeffrey's former engineering professors attend and tell stories about Jeff. Jeff and Kevin have left a legacy for young people who do find their dreams and for us it's everything. Our dreams were shattered but to see the dreams of other young people fulfilled is very rewarding," she said.
The Jeff and Kevin Graham Memorial Fund supports the "Question, Persuade, Refer" suicide prevention program at UK.
When our son Kevin died, we blamed ourselves for not recognizing the serious warning signs thatKevins depression was a true medical illness and not just a sad feeling,Mark Graham said. We knew our son was sad, but we just didnt know you could die from being too sad. For years we had talked to our children about alcohol, drugs, sex and even strangers, just about anything we knew to keep our children safe and healthy but our lack of understanding and education in thinking that all it took to fight clinical depression was a prayer, a proper diet, exercise, and a good night's sleep kept us from getting our son the best medical care he needed. With the support of UK, we are compelled to speak out and try to save the life of someone elses child.
UK's suicide prevention program is in memory of both Jeff and Kevin Graham. The QPR program and engineering scholarship have been endowed and the Grahams vow they will continueto give the rest of their lives.
Mark and Carol Graham have the courage to turn personal tragedy into active suicide prevention efforts nationwide, and to inspire healing for survivors of suicide and other losses," said Mary C. Bolin, director of the UK Counseling Center "They often speak of losing their two sons to different battles, and in 2003 their memorial fund allowed UK to launch asystemic effort in the form of QPR Question, Persuade, Refer training for active bystander intervention.Coordinated by the UK Counseling Center, we provide QPR to all Residence Life staff, and many others across campus, including academic advisors, faculty, staff, and students. With the Graham family, our goal is to reduce the stigma surrounding help-seeking, and to empower individuals to recognize and reach out to someone whose struggle may include suicidal thinking.
Carol Graham said their loss was the darkest two chapters of their lives, but they continue to feel love and supported by UK.
"Our pain helped us feel compassion for others. Our boys have left a legacy, something that will live on."
"The heart of philanthropy is the ability to give back to others. You get back more than you give," Carol Graham said.
The Graham's story is featured in the award-winning book, "The Invisible Front: Loss and Love in an Era of Endless War," by Yochi Dreazen.
For more information on the QPR suicide prevention program at UK, go to http://www.uky.edu/counselingcenter/suicide-prevention-and-qpr-2.
For more information aboutKentucky Can, visitkentuckycan.uky.edu.
- Weight loss story: This guy followed the Keto diet and lost 11 kilos in just 2 months! This is his diet - Times of India - February 24th, 2020
- Five ways to improve flexibility - The Guardian - February 24th, 2020
- How to lose belly fat: 6 easy ways to burn visceral fat, feel fitter and reveal your abs in 2020 - T3 - February 24th, 2020
- The importance of checking your blood pressure regularly - FOX 31 Denver - February 24th, 2020
- Staying heart healthy: What you need to know at the end of Heart Health Month - KRDO - February 24th, 2020
- Two Million People Could Be Diabetic In The Next 5 Years: Know The Best Preventive Tips For Keeping Type 2 Diabetes Away - Doctor NDTV - February 24th, 2020
- Signs Of Heart Disease When There Are No Obvious Symptoms - KERA News - February 24th, 2020
- Mediterranean diet scores another win for longevity by improving microbiome - CNN - February 24th, 2020
- The Sirtfood Diet: The 411 On Adeles Weight Loss Method - Momtastic - February 24th, 2020
- Signal of high blood pressure that you can find surprisingly in your hair - NewsDio - February 24th, 2020
- Prevention is key to maintaining a healthy heart - centraljersey.com - February 22nd, 2020
- Human Condition: When that long walk for exercise takes you to the ice cream parlor - The Advocate - February 22nd, 2020
- The Old Guy: Loving support for a partner with health concerns - SILive.com - February 22nd, 2020
- Foods That Help Ease Menopausal Symptoms - Everyday Health - February 22nd, 2020
- The Full List of Foods You Can Eat on the Noom Diet - GoodHousekeeping.com - February 22nd, 2020
- Kelly Ripa, 49, Quit Drinking and Eats an Alkaline Diet to Look and Feel Her Best - Prevention.com - February 22nd, 2020
- Mark Spitz: The Real-Life Diet of the Legendary Swimmer Who Still Does Imaginary Races Against Michael Phelps - GQ - February 22nd, 2020
- Father Forced His 9-Year-Old Daughter to Adopt Strict Diet and Exercise Regimen - Distractify - February 22nd, 2020
- Looking to Build a Stronger Butt? Here Are 5 Foods to Eat (and 2 to Avoid) - LIVESTRONG.COM - February 22nd, 2020
- How to lose visceral fat: The alternative exercise proven to reduce harmful belly fat - Express - February 22nd, 2020
- Fad of Matching Diet to DNA Ineffective, New Study Shows - The Great Courses Daily News - February 22nd, 2020
- Chin up vs pull up: what's the difference, muscles worked and WHAT IS THE BEST ONE? - T3 - February 22nd, 2020
- Flexitarian diet: All you need to know about this balanced diet option - Republic World - Republic World - February 22nd, 2020
- The Irish Times view on the Mediterranean diet: good for the gut - The Irish Times - February 22nd, 2020
- Benefits, fun can be found by getting fit in a group - The Robesonian - February 22nd, 2020
- DNA Diet Hailed as Key to Weight Loss, But Don't Bet Your Genes On It - Celebrity Health & Fitness - February 22nd, 2020
- Tips on using diet and exercise to prevent heart disease - WISHTV.com - February 19th, 2020
- Exercise Makes It Easier To Maintain A Healthy Diet, Doesnt Cause Increased Appetite - Study Finds - February 19th, 2020
- Mediterranean diet scores another win for longevity by improving microbiome - KTVZ - February 19th, 2020
- As Wave of Baby Boomers Enter Retirement, Journey Capital and SilverPoint Senior Living Team Up to Build Modern Senior Living Communities - PRNewswire - February 19th, 2020
- Personal trainers given tools to spot 'red flags' of eating disorders - The Sydney Morning Herald - February 19th, 2020
- How to eat, sleep, train and boost your mood during your menstrual cycle - Telegraph.co.uk - February 19th, 2020
- Weight loss tips: How to combine intermittent fasting & keto to lose weight, as per this guy who lost 33 kg - GQ India - February 19th, 2020
- Joel Reece encourages students to know their eating habits and avoid excessive refined carbohydrates - Ke Alakai - February 15th, 2020
- What Really Happens to Your Body When You Lose 10 Pounds - LIVESTRONG.COM - February 15th, 2020
- Gearing up for my annual battle with cabin fever - Lake Placid Diet by Andy Flynn - LakePlacidNews.com | News and information on the Lake Placid and... - February 15th, 2020
- Various classes offer students and community opportunities to practice mindfulness - University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily - February 15th, 2020
- What we can all learn from Henry Cavill's health and wellbeing rituals - harpersbazaar.com - February 15th, 2020
- Using the bodys natural cycle to improve shift workers health - Medical News Today - February 15th, 2020
- Disordered Eating and Compulsive Exercise in Collegiate Athletes: Applications for Sport and Research - United States Sports Academy Sports Journal - February 15th, 2020
- Springfield Hospital Looks To Sever Ties With Clinics In Bankruptcy Plan - Vermont Public Radio - February 15th, 2020
- Following a keto diet could weaken your bones and increase your risk of injury - Luton Today - February 15th, 2020
- Start your Health Journey with Live Well Exercise Clinic - North Shore News - February 15th, 2020
- NewsRadio 1120 KMOX Released an Interview With STL Beds Owners and Family Members Dave and Doug Belleville - PR Web - February 15th, 2020
- Leg Cramps on Keto: Causes, Treatment, and More - Healthline - February 15th, 2020
- Horoscope today: Here are the astrological predictions for February 14 - Mumbai Mirror - February 15th, 2020
- Gwen Stefani Reveals 15 Things She Does To Look So Young - TheThings - February 15th, 2020
- Everything you need to know about carbs - 9Honey - February 15th, 2020
- The Best Diet And Fitness Tips Kate Middleton Swears By - Women's Health - February 12th, 2020
- Is there a connection between diabetes and heart health? - Monitor - February 12th, 2020
- FHN News: 20 tips for a healthy heart this Valentines Day - Freeport Journal-Standard - February 12th, 2020
- Bob Roper | The fires of California: Past the tipping point? - YubaNet - February 12th, 2020
- This Research-Backed Trick Can Help Healthy Eating Stick - Runner's World - February 12th, 2020
- How to live longer: Do this much exercise each week to increase your life expectancy - Express - February 12th, 2020
- Steps to Improve and Maintain Your Heart Health - DeKalb Daily Chronicle - February 12th, 2020
- This Man Lost 82 Pounds Through Fasting and Tackling the Carnivore Diet - msnNOW - February 12th, 2020
- Reducing the Risks - outsmartmagazine.com - February 12th, 2020
- Intermittent fasting is the best diet for weight loss, but the Mediterranean diet is easier to stick to and healthier overall, study finds - Business... - February 12th, 2020
- What is the alkaline diet and can it lead to weight loss? - ABC News - February 12th, 2020
- Embracing Your Postpartum Body And Ignoring The Pressure To "Bounce Back" - GirlTalkHQ - February 12th, 2020
- Phillip Schofield fitness: This Morning presenter reveals how he stays in shape - Express - February 12th, 2020
- Diabetes support group's good start The Voice - The Spalding and South Holland Voice - February 12th, 2020
- Lifestyle secrets of some of the worlds oldest people - Daily Nation - February 12th, 2020
- Executives reveal which fad diets actually work - The Australian Financial Review - February 12th, 2020
- A Cigarette in One Hand and a Fitbit on the Other - Medscape - February 12th, 2020
- These 4 Industries Trending for Growth This Year - Small Business Trends - February 9th, 2020
- Beyond Drug Therapy: Comprehensive lung cancer treatment approach at Ohio State integrates diet, exercise, physical therapy and relaxation techniques... - February 9th, 2020
- The power of aerobic exercise - The New Times - February 9th, 2020
- Lose visceral fat: How to get rid of the dangerous belly fat - four steps to follow - Express - February 9th, 2020
- Weight loss: Expert reveals fat-busting diet plan - what can you eat? - Express - February 9th, 2020
- Happy Meals: Making Positive Change To Diet Also Helps Ward Off Depression - Study Finds - February 9th, 2020
- What is the effect of optimism on diet quality? - Medical News Bulletin - February 9th, 2020
- Lifestyle secrets of some of the world's oldest people - nation.co.ke - February 9th, 2020
- Coronavirus: What parents should know and do - Harvard Health Blog - Harvard Health - February 9th, 2020
- Psychiatric practice opened in The Mill - observer-me.com - February 9th, 2020
- Add Fat to Diet the Healthy Way by Avoiding These Common Mistakes - LIVESTRONG.COM - February 9th, 2020
- Save Money: Lose Weight: Are the Eat Yourself Healthy and Pegan diet easy to follow? - Express - February 9th, 2020
- The art of ageing gracefully - Daily Pioneer - February 9th, 2020
- Compare popular diets in one place with the help of a nutritionist - ABC News - February 9th, 2020
- Taylor Swift And The Gray Area Of Disordered Eating - BuzzFeed News - February 9th, 2020