BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma – Muscogee (Creek) Veteran Michael D. Coon’s vision of a national war memorial honoring deceased veterans lost to suicide is finally coming to fruition. Funded by the Mission 22 Project, the War at Home Memorial is a first of its kind: a monument honoring veterans lost to mental illness. The memorial is significant to Michael D. Coon because his son, Michael K. Coon is one of the veterans honored and the only Muscogee (Creek) Veteran to be featured.
The War at Home Memorial is dedicated to veterans who did not survive their battle with mental illnesses, including posttraumatic stress disorder, mesial temporal sclerosis, and traumatic brain injuries.
Army Staff Sgt. Michael K. Coon served in Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan. When he came back, Michael struggled to adapt to life back home. After struggling with PTSD, he took his own life in 2015. The dedication of his silhouette monument took place at the Military History Center in Broken Arrow on May 8, 2021. Michael K. Coon’s monument was funded by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, the City of Broken Arrow and the Mission 22 Project.
SINCE HIS SON’S PASSING, Michael D. Coon has worked closely with the Mission 22 project. He believes the War at Home Memorial is essential for veterans that are still in the healing process. “We don’t know what they endured overseas; well, we need to have something for them so the soldiers still dealing with PTSD can have a place to gather their thoughts, think about the situation where they’re at.” Micheal D. Coon said.
Michael D. Coon was assigned as a guardian of the War at Home Memorial, then became a steward. He’s presented dedications of the Memorial in Texas, Virginia and now home in Oklahoma.
The Memorial was originally going to be a moving one. However, the logistics made finding a permanent home in Broken Arrow more practical.
Broken Arrow Mayor Debra Wimpee was instrumental in the planning stages, and she has been involved since the beginning. “Broken Arrow loves our veterans, and we love honoring our veterans. There was no way we could not take this unique opportunity of awareness of veteran suicide,” Mayor Wimpee said.
Groundbreaking for the War at Home Memorial began in August 2021 and will officially be completed in June. Micheal K. Coon will join 19 other fallen soldiers.
The War at Home Memorial consists of 20 steel plate silhouette monuments, standing at 10 feet tall and weighing 1,000 pounds, each created in the likeness of an American Veteran lost to suicide due to mental illness. The Memorial will be an extension to Veteran’s Park in Broken Arrow, overlooking the pond.
A monument honoring Gold Star Families stands at the north end of the Memorial. At the south end stands a monument honoring Blue Star Families.
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 20 veterans lose their battle with mental illness every day through suicide.
Mission 22 aims to fight the war against mental illness and save lives. Their goal is to serve veterans struggling with their transition back into civilian life and spread awareness for veteran suicides. They not only want to save veterans, but they also want to see them thrive.
The Nonprofit offers services like biometric monitoring of stress, meditation, coaching, exercise/wellness programs, and learning resources. They know precisely what their recipients need because they have gone through the same experiences.
The nonprofit’s mission is personal because veterans founded it. Most of their staff comprises veterans, spouses of veterans, or immediate family members who have served in the military.
Families of the soldiers included in the Memorial will attend the dedication. For some, it will be their first time viewing the monuments.
The dedication ceremony will feature an honor guard composed of the Muscogee Nation, Broken Arrow Civil Servants and veterans from various organizations. A flyover is scheduled for 10 AM, with a 21-gun salute to follow.
The Dedication Ceremony will honor Muscogee (Creek) and Native Culture. A Native Drummer and Singers will perform a victory song and a memorial song. A Native Bugler will perform taps. Each monument will also receive a blessing with an eagle feather.
“To me, it was like the Creator is the One that put this vision in me. I was His tool to make the process come out of how He wanted His people to feel when they see these silhouettes, you know that they had broken hearts, but He wanted a way to heal them, to give them that spot where they can come back.” Michael D. Coon said.
The Memorial is more than just a site. They are sacred grounds that inhabit the spirits of those who have passed on, according to Michael D. Coon. He said it’s an honor to build the National Memorial in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation because it will attract visitors from across the United States to pay their respects.
When asked what she hopes visitors will take away from the memorial, Mayor Wimpee said, “a greater sense of what our service members and their families go through.” To her, the likeness of each monument is more than just soldiers. They’re individuals.
When asked the same question, Michael D. Coon said, “to feel the presence of these 20 warriors that have served our nation to have what we have right now, free speech, free worship, free elections.” Although it can be somber to pay respects to the fallen, he said people should be proud of their service.
The dedication for the War at Home Memorial is scheduled for 10 AM on June 11 at Veterans Park in Broken Arrow. The event is open to the public.
If you would like to donate or learn more about the Mission 22 Project, visit: https://mission22.com/.
To view prior Mvskoke Media coverage of this story, visit https://www.mvskokemedia.com/muscogee-soldier-honored-in-dedication/.