Colton didn't lose many battles...

4.28.16: On this spring day in 2012, Sergeant Colton Levi Derr committed suicide. Today, an estimated 22+ veterans will follow Colton’s path and die by their own hands.

Colton suffered with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following his combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. In support of America’s War on Terror during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, SGT Derr, US Army 1st Division, completed over 500 combat missions. Colton succumbed to suicide within six weeks of arriving stateside from his Afghanistan deployment.

Colton was a Warrior….which gave him the resolve to take his own life. Think about, since we lost Colton - another 32,120 veterans have fallen.

Colton didn't lose many battles - he was a very determined young man. Colton’s soldiers nicknamed him “Delta Derr.” Oh yes, he had GRIT. This toughness however proved to be his achilles heel. The one enemy he strived to defeat (PTSD) finally wore him down to the point he tapped out. Once Colton decided he was going to take his life, there was no turning back - he was resolute. Colton was going to kill the demons who would give him no peace. Colton didn't want to die, he wanted peace, he wanted the pain to end.

I knew Colton’s battles, I knew Colton’s demons. I prayed and we prayed together as a family for his pain to cease. Knowing we had to take this head on, Colton sought treatment within his military resources. Colton was flagged as non-deployable (he sought help) before his final mission. This was a hard decision for Colton as he didn’t want to do anything that may jeopardize his military career. He was a proud man, a self-sufficient man, a brother others went to for counsel.

His outreach efforts failed. His military leadership marked him mission essential and actually wrote, “we will monitor soldier in theater.” That did not happen. We don't blame anyone. We are proud of our son's service to his country. 

I spoke to a mother the other day who was concerned about her veteran son. She said her son is no longer interested in his family, friends or his lifestyle as a civilian. He is withdrawn and they are afraid he will take his life. What are they doing….never leaving him alone. That is not a plan.

The family of Sergeant Colton Levi Derr formed this non-profit Foundation in his name. We honor Colton by helping other veterans and soldiers who battle PTSD and TBI.


I love you Son....Jerry W. Derr, Father

He’s America’s son
He bleeds red white and blue
A brother and a friend
To thine own self be true
He was born to lead and serve
And lived to roam and ride
He was happiest with
A pretty girl at his side
Restless was his soul and strong was the call
America’s son would ride proud and tall
His face to the sun and old glory unfurled
He strapped a gun to his back and went off to save the world
With blood, sweat, and tears he fought the battle well
Then demons stole his dreams and the warrior fell
The way to save himself was not to be found
A life he’d never know lay shattered on the ground
He’s America’s son
He bled red white and blue
A brother and a friend
To thine own self be true
When you sit around a fire, laugh and raise a beer
Think kindly of him then and know he will be near
He’s a whisper in your soul
A feather in the wind
America’s son has come home again.

….Aunt Karen