Michael's Story

Michael's Story, written by his mother, Kriss Titus

Michael Paul Titus was born October 31, 1985 in Kissimmee, Florida. He was a Halloween baby, and the youngest of six siblings. Michael was always the baby of the family, coddled by everyone, even as he grew into what he considered to be “A Grown Ass Man”. Michael lived most of his life in Santa Rosa Beach, and spent his days hanging on the local beaches with family and friends. One afternoon he came home to let his parents know that he wanted to join the military and serve our country, following in the footsteps of his older brothers. He joined the ARMY in 2007, amidst wartime for the US.

Michael was a loving, caring, considerate and a funny, funny guy with a laugh that could fill a concert hall. His sense of humor got him in more trouble than one can imagine. He had a very dry sense of humor that wasn’t always funny to some of the audiences he was around. One of the stories we remember well was when he was in basic training digging fox holes and he mentioned to his Drill Sergeant. “Sir I need a bigger shovel to dig this hole with.” On hearing this the Drill Sergeant presented Michael with a very small trowel. He asked Michael how that size would work, and Michael replied, “Sir I wished in one hand and ended up with shit in the other hand.” Michael’s humor did not impress his Drill Sergeant and he paid a dear price for his remark.

Sgt Michael Paul Titus served in the Army as a 13F2P Fire Support Specialist with the 173rd Airborne Brigade from 2007 to 2014 stationed in Vicenza, Italy. He served four tours in Afghanistan and was medically boarded out with an Honorable Discharge. Michael did not want to leave the service, but he had been wounded in gun fire and could no longer comfortably wear a Kevlar vest and shoot a gun. He suffered with hearing loss and bad knees as a Paratrooper. Sadly, he also struggled with severe depression and PTSD after his four tours in Afghanistan.

Michael came back to the United States in February 2014 with his wife (whom he had married while stationed abroad), and two dogs (Dexter and Mia). Although trying, they began to settle into civilian life post military service. Things didn’t go so well for Michael, he struggled psychologically with the effects of war and battlefield experiences. Troubling issues included Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain injury (TBI), and depression. He was Baker Acted more than once, and was on a merry-go-round on drugs prescribed by the VA. He was fighting a new battle, a war on his own invisible wounds.

Michael was so proud to serve his country, but when he came home, he had great difficulty adjusting to civilian life. He shared with his family many times how he dreamed of starting a nonprofit to help veterans and their families to adapt to civilian life post military service; to give to them the opportunity to thrive not just survive. Short of making that dream come true, and unable to fight any longer, Michael took his own life on 2/7/2016.

Our family’s grief was heavy after Michael died. It is debilitating knowing our son, the brother to his siblings, the baby of the family was now among the 22 veterans every day that commit suicide. That is one veteran every 90 seconds every day, 365 days a year. Those numbers are staggering, and trust me, we never believed our son would ever be one of those statistics.

A few years passed, and as we healed our hearts, my husband and I felt the desire to take Michael’s dream and make it a reality. Helping veterans and their families to adapt to civilian life post military service; giving them and opportunity to thrive just not survive. In December of 2018 we formed the Non-profit called Michael’s Foundation. The mission of Michael’s Foundation is to inspire, engage, and empower veterans and their families to adapt to civilian life post military service. On April 16, 2019 we received our 501c3 status and are serving veterans and their families. We are working to create and provide an empowering, supportive community where veterans and their families go beyond just surviving to thriving.


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