What is your role or connection to Folds of Honor: I first heard about Folds of Honor in March of 2016. My husband, Major Shawn Campbell, had died in a helicopter collision with eleven other Marines just eight weeks before, on January 14. I was lost; a homeschool mom and Marine’s wife without her home, or her Marine. I had moved with my children to my parents’ home in Kansas City while we figured out our next steps. I didn’t know how to parent anymore, much less educate my children and I remember the day I specifically, desperately, begged God for help. That day I got two phone calls. One was from an amazing school in Kansas City inviting my children to come for a visit, and the other was from a friend in Florida, a fellow Marine wife, telling me about this incredible organization called Folds of Honor. By the end of that week, my children were enrolled at Whitefield Academy and we were beginning a new life. I had been given hope.
What is your chapter connection/How did you find Folds of Honor: Just a couple of months after my children became scholarship recipients and began their first full school year at Whitefield Academy, I stumbled into a casual 5k in Kansas City benefiting the Folds of Honor—ironically, a friend had invited us not knowing our connection to the organization. I met members of the KC chapter board that day and introduced them to my children. I had no idea until that day that there were kind, faithful, generous people right here in my own community working to grow the impact of Folds of Honor. I was overwhelmed with admiration and gratitude and they were excited to meet one of the families they had supported. The more I got to know the volunteers responsible for the Kansas City chapter, the more I wanted to do what I could to give back. I began speaking in late fall of 2016 and a little over a year later accepted the full-time role of chapter development officer.
Are you a veteran: No; I was married to my Marine for fifteen years.
How long have you been involved or supporting Folds of Honor: Since 2016
What does this scholarship mean to you and/or your family? Folds of Honor scholarships gave me hope for my family’s ability to move forward after so much loss. I was given the freedom to choose the best school for my children’s needs—a small Christian Academy that would shepherd their broken hearts as well as provide them with the classical education we had originally set out to give them through homeschooling. At a time when I didn’t even know where to live (the military had always made that choice for me!), I was given a first step into this new life. My children’s scholarships were like rocks in a pond that set off a lifetime of ripples, impacting home, church, friends, music lessons, sports teams, and now even a meaningful new career and the ability to support my family beyond education.
As an organization, what drew you into supporting Folds of Honor? What values do you appreciate most about the organization? Everyone I meet in the Folds of Honor family is passionate about their role in carrying out the mission. I think it is the atmosphere of honor and respect that has brought the foundation so far. They manage to show appreciation for the great sacrifices made by our military families as well as recognize the generosity of patriotic Americans who haven’t forgotten them. When people give sacrificially to Folds of Honor, they know their gifts will be stewarded well. I love that I get to look donors in the eye and say ‘thank you’ and I love knowing they will walk away confident they made a difference. And when Folds of Honor steps into a family’s greatest heartbreak to offer help, they do so with the upmost care for safeguarding their loved one’s memory. Honor and sacrifice—no one is left behind.
What does being a military spouse mean to you? I loved Shawn Campbell with all my heart and would have still if he had never worn a uniform. He was an amazing husband and father, he was a faithful son and brother, he was a steadfast friend, and he was a respected military officer. His young Marines looked up to him as a father-figure in the same way that his own children could always count on his strength, courage, and fierce protection. He was a leader of men and a leader of his family, and I was willing to follow him anywhere. Being a military spouse meant choosing sacrifice, separation and, hardship, but that choice brought to our lives true hope, love, pride and the greatest joy.
It was my honor to be Shawn’s friend, his helper, his partner, and his biggest fan. The fact that I got to be by his side throughout his entire military career is simply blessing added to blessing. I pinned his first gold Lieutenant’s bar on his shoulder at his commissioning and I accepted his folded flag at his burial. I am a better person because of my time as a military wife—because of my time as Shawn’s wife. I will forever be thankful that I was part of his story and that my children and I had the privilege of being loved by him. I would choose this life a thousand times over.
How do you recognize the Memorial Day holiday? Our Memorial Day has always looked a little different depending on where we lived or who we spent it with. We have family memories of laying roses at Arlington and leis at Punchbowl. We spoke the names of fallen friends and we took pause as a family to be thankful for all we’d been given through others’ sacrifice. Since losing Shawn, that much hasn’t changed. Military families mourn for those lost every day of their lives in some way, but we honor Shawn by continuing to live in gratitude and continuing to seek goodness and continuing to love others well just as he encouraged us. On Memorial Day we recognize that our Shawn is in heaven and we will see him again. The feeling that truth brings is the very definition of deep joy. In the midst of grief, we have hope—this is Memorial Day for us.