In 2009, Jill Stephenson received news that no parent with their child deployed overseas ever wants to hear. Her son — U.S. Army Ranger Benjamin Kopp — had suffered a gunshot wound to the leg.
Her first thought was that he was going to lose the leg, but it would turn into the worst-case scenario. Eight days after his admittance to Walter Reed Medical Center, Kopp died from his injuries.
While the experience happened eight years ago, Stephenson still lives with the memory every day. She has found coping mechanisms and healing through sharing her son’s story of selfless sacrifice.
Through that healing, Stephenson became part of TAPS, a program that helps military families with the grieving process. To this day, she still advocates for veterans’ issues all across the country.
As some of the media keeps bashing President Donald Trump for his comments about Barack Obama not calling families of the fallen, Stephenson shared her experience with Independent Journal Review.
“I never got a call,” Stephenson said, “The Obamas never sent these, either.”
Then she shared a powerful and heartfelt letter she received from First Lady Melania Trump just after Memorial Day:
The letter reads:
St. Petersburg, Florida
Dear Ms. Stephenson,
I wish to offer my heartfelt gratitude for the sacrifices you have made and the high price you and your family have paid to help ensure our freedom.
As a mother, you bear the burden of war in a very personal way. I want to take a moment, on Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, to honor you and your son, Corporal Benjamin Kopp, who laid down his life to protect us, our country, and all we hold dear. His sacrifice will never be forgotten.
I hold you close to my heart and keep you in my prayers.
Not much else needs to be said, as the first lady’s personalized message to Stephenson speaks volumes.