Petal woman calls for PTSD awareness in emotional tribute video to late husband

Petal woman calls for PTSD awareness in emotional tribute video to late husband

PETAL, MS (WDAM) - A Petal woman's Facebook video has been viewed almost six million times, shared over 200,000 times, and has one simple message.

Stephanie Mason Lembo posted a video to her Facebook page on Thursday, telling the heartbreaking story of her late husband.

In the video, Stephanie recalls the love of her life, Anthony, who was a special forces Navy SEAL.

"He joined the military right after 9/11," Stephanie said. "He was from New York. The day before he was with his dad downtown right by the Twin Towers, and the next day they're gone. And he signed up."

Her story takes a dark turn, highlighting the frightening symptoms Anthony displayed.

"The signs were there, but I didn't know what to do," Stephanie said. "I wasn't educated."

She said he came home from a training exercise and wasn't eating or sleeping.  It wasn't until after her 27-year-old husband committed suicide that she learned he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

"That night that my husband committed suicide, I asked him, I said 'will you get help? You need to get help. Let's get help.' He kept saying 'no, no, no, no. No.  I'll lose my security clearance.' So five hours later, I lost my husband. He lost his life. That's a problem."

She continued, "They're scared to get the help. They're scared to lose their job because they work so hard to get there. But they're scared. They don't want to feel weak. If you are working in a special forces job, you cannot be weak. You can't."

She hopes to start a conversation about mental illness and start to treat it physical illness.

"You look at cancer awareness, you know it's there. You see it. But what do you hear about PTSD? Nothing."

Stephanie ended her video by speaking of her life mission to  help veterans with PTSD in the Pine Belt area.

"Anthony wasn't the only one to feel this way," she said. "Three people in his command committed suicide in one year."

Stephanie said she was inspired to get involved with Carry the Fallen, a ruck march or hiking event that has participants carry a backpack full of ricks and mementos of fallen veterans and active heroes. Stephanie has started a local team called "Pine Belt Home front"  and is planning their first ruck for Nov. 7, 2015.

"I started looking into it, and said 'I really want to get involved with this.'  I feel like I have a platform. I know I can do something. I know I can motivate people."

"Since today is World Suicide Prevention Day, I made this video to share my story. Please forgive the tears. I hope someone who watches this sees the pain of what suicide can cause," said Stephanie in her post.

She said she would feel successful if she saved even one life, and she thinks she accomplished that goal.

"Last night, I read some of the messages, and there's this one guy who said, 'Stephanie thank you for saying this because this week I was contemplating on committing suicide, but something you said made me say I don't want this for my family.'"