Stories Behind The Banner: Colton Levi Derr’s legacy lives on to support struggling veterans
Colton Levi Derr, a promising young man from New Underwood, graduated from high school in 2006 with a state wrestling title, a well-established amateur rodeo career and a passion for serving his country. Derr first joined the military as an Army reservist and later moved to Fort Hood, Texas where he would later be deployed to Iraq.
Following his first deployment in Iraq, Derr suffered from PTSD. Derr sought support through the military chain of command, but they were not supportive. Derr ultimately switched units and moved to Fort Drum, New York where he joined the 10th Mountain Division. Between Iraq and Afghanistan, Derr fought in over 500 combat missions.
When Derr visited his family the following spring, his loved ones noticed a change in his demeanor and asked him to continue counseling when he returned to Fort Drum after his visit. Derr agreed, but instead of receiving support from the military chain of command, Derr was flagged non-deployable due to his battle with depression and PTSD.
On April 28, 2012, before Derr was to report back for duty, he took his own life just outside Fort Drum.
In response to the immense loss following Colton Derr’s suicide, the Derr family founded the Derr Foundation.
The Derr Foundation is dedicated to supporting and assisting veterans who may be experiencing mental or physical health issues following deployment. The foundation features a network of organizations and resources with the common goal of supporting military personnel as they recover from the trauma of war.
For more information about the Derr Foundation, visit their website here.