Her son, a father of three, wanted to serve, so days after 911 he joined the National Guard. He was told he'd serve stateside. Months later he was in a 140 - tent outside Fort Anaconda.
The Iraqi kids loved him, as did his fellow troopers. In addition to being his unit's medical life saver , he was their Go-To Guy. On behalf of his guys, an argumentative Patrick protested to the officers over the sixth consecutive day of early morning patrols for his tired engineering company. "This is BS. They'll only listen after someone is killed," he returned to tell his guys.
That morning, wearing his cheap Kevlar vest, for which his mom was saving to buy a solid vest, Patrick McCaffrey and Lieutenant Tyson were murdered. Most of the eight bullets that riddled Patrick's muscular body came from the American trained Iraqi troops that were supposed to be the patrol's backup.
Notwithstanding the Bush Administration's prohibition, Nadia McCaffrey's son's flag draped casket was the first to be photographed since the start of the Iraqi invasion, because as his fearless mother said, "He left in broad daylight" Why should I hide his return in darkness"? I want people to know everything about who he was"He shall not return in darkness."
Shunning politics, even though dumbed-down politics produced so many unnecessary Gold Stars, she established the Patrick McCaffrey Foundation (PMF) to continue what her son did so well -- care for his brothers.
On a macro scale, soon the PMF will open a 250 acre Veterans Victory Village farm/school in Minnesota to provide long term training and adjustment time to vets.
On a micro scale, Nadia has turned her son's home into the loving place where 27 vets with varying degrees of post-traumatic stress disorders have turned their lives around. The small amount of rent they paid helped the tireless and determined Nadia stand up generals and mucky mucks to help scores of other troubled vets across the country through her long days staffing the PMF.
While politicians argued over a trumped-up war, avoiding single payer health care for all, social security insurance payments, arguing over paying previously incurred debts, etc., this former hospice worker:
- Battled daily for veterans.
- Couldn't afford medical insurance and couldn't tend to the internal growth that has been building and weakening her for years.
- Stretched her rental dollars to cover the Veterans Administration mortgage on her son's house, on which she and her daughter-in-law recently stemmed possible foreclosure proceedings.
- Watched her 19 year old grandson be hospitalized for ulcers, tumors, and stomach bleeding.
- Cried when her 14 year old grandson grew into a husky football player on a championship team when he asked his gram, "Do you think dad would be proud of me?"
While I expect you are not among the 400 richest Americans, who control more wealth than the next 150 million increasingly financially burdened Americans, if you are able, please consider making a tax deductible donation to the Patrick McCaffrey Foundation, a 501c3.
Gold Star Moms like Nadia, who do so much for families that once were the core strength of a once great and solid middle class nation, deserve to survive even in these challenging times. Learn more at