Acting as a surrogate Mom, the three siblings ran with their Dad who ran almost daily around their rural community in Lubbock, Texas. Running was their passion and what bound the four together.
In Nov 2004, Cpl Jose "Freddy" Velez was killed by a sniper's bullet in Fallujah. His brother Spc. Andrew Velez who was serving in southern Iraq, identified Freddy's body and accompanied him home..
After Andrew arrived in Afghanistan in 2006, he killed himself with a machine gun.
In a period of 18 months, Monica had lost her two brothers who she had loved and admired so much.
There's never a difficult or challenging time that she doesn't think of them. And today during the Marathon, she will remember and appreciate their sacrifices they made for their country.
Monica wants to raise awareness on the plight of those who have lost a sibling, what some call "disenfranchised grief."
Thanks to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Monica has been able to not only get counseling from the VA, but has also been able to go online to reach out and share with TAPS's large network of siblings.