Expands Services to Families of Fallen Heroes - A Conversation With the Jordan Family
Author: Paul deVere
Since its founding in 2008, Operation R&R USA has provided hundreds of free vacations on Hilton Head Island for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families. Property owners, volunteers, restaurants and vacation-oriented businesses make this all possible. In 2011, the non-profit group expanded to Charleston, SC and Austin, TX.
In 2012, Operation R&R extended its outreach to include “Families of the Fallen Heroes Program,” dedicated to the families who have lost a loved one in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The following is an interview with one of the first families of a Fallen Hero to be hosted by Operation R&R.
We are sitting in the Long Cove clubhouse. In the background is Grant Evans, founder of Operation R&R. Evans and wife Mia, live in Long Cove and the private golf community has been very generous in its response to Operation R&R. But, then so has the entire island.
Today, the focus is on three people: Michelle Jordan, widow, Michelle (17), daughter, and Michael (16), son of Jevon Kieran Jordan. Though it has been four years since the death of husband and father, there is a certain sense of stillness with this handsome family, what TAPS Magazine (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) often refers to as the “new normal.”
CH2: What made you decide to take up Operation R&R’s offer to come to Hilton Head?
Mrs. Jordan: We’d never been to Hilton Head. I really needed a vacation, so God just blessed us with it.
CH2: How has your vacation been so far? What have you enjoyed most?
Mrs. Jordan: It has been beautiful, so relaxing. We’ve had so much fun. Even the first night when we met Mr. Grant and Mia, they were awesome. The condo that we are staying in is wonderful. So far I think our favorites were going to the Boathouse, and then we had a massage. (Teasing) Michael loved the massage.
CH2: When you not on vacation, what are you doing?
Mrs. Jordan: I am working. I’m also a football/basketball/baseball mom. My days are getting up early, around 5 a.m., dropping them off at school, going to work at 6:30, get off at 3:00; picking them up, and waiting for the people to get off of basketball, football. We don’t get home until like 6-7 o’clock at night. So we have really long days.
CH2: Other than being the football/ basketball/baseball track, do you have any other interests?
Mrs. Jordan: No, I don’t have time; I really don’t. I would love to finish school and just relax and get my life back. Since Jevon died, it’s only me now so… I’m a single parent and still have all these duties that I have to deal with.
CH2: How long had you been married?
Mrs. Jordan: For 13 years.
CH2: There are a lot of retired and active duty members of the Armed Forces in the Lowcountry, what would you like them to know about Javon, about you, about this program?
Mrs. Jordan: I would like for them to know that Jevon died a hero. He gave the ultimate sacrifice and that was his life. That was his first tour. He was there for five months. He left in October and was killed in March (2008). He was actually injured. On Easter Sunday morning, he went out on a convoy; he volunteered to be the gunner. He took somebody’s place, and as he was going on a convoy, they had a buried IED in the ground and it hit the top of his truck. The explosion disintegrated his helmet and a piece of metal went through the back of his head. It lodged in the front of his forehead. He actually survived for six days. I think he would have survived longer, but the people in Germany wanted to take him off life support.
He wanted to go over to Iraq, and he wanted to fight. I just thank the Army and Operation R&R for allowing us to participate in this program. I think it is a really excellent program.
(Note: Michelle and Michael are students at Memorial Day School in Savannah.)
CH2: Michelle, when you graduate, what do you think you want to do?
Michelle: My plans are to go north, Boston or Ohio, and go to medical school. I may become a doctor. I’m not sure what I want—maybe a children’s doctor.
CH2: Do you have a favorite subject in school?
Michelle: I guess it would have to be history.
CH2: How about you, Michael?
Michael: My favorite? Science. To study the human mind.
CH2: What would you like to be?
Michael: If none of my sports work out, I will go to a private college or maybe university and get my PhD in psychology and work for the military. I’ll help the military troops and families with the issues and just try and be there for them.
CH2: You have been involved with the program in Washington called TAPS. Tell us about that.
Michael: TAPS is an organization for fallen soldiers. Not just soldiers who died overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also soldiers who committed suicide. They are really opening their arms up for families like ours. They have this huge conference for all the fallen soldiers’ families. They have breakout sessions, if people need additional counseling, like dealing with grief—just any and every issue that a lot of us go through. Parents are also allowed to attend this program.
There is also another organization, Families of Fallen Heroes. We only attended that once. But there are agencies that help with support, like if you need mentoring, a gathering place for all of us to come and be able to express ourselves—our views, and some of the issues that we go through.
CH2: What do you think you’re going to take away from the island, from your vacation?
Mrs. Jordan: That people care. There are people who really care about the fallen heroes. This program has been really good to us. It has been a blessing.