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Tomra Michelle Vecere

In memory of Thomas Vecere

My father, Tom, loved all animals but especially horses and dogs. He wanted to be a farmer but ended up a restaurant owner. He loved building things: businesses, houses, farms.

On April 12, 2000, my father, Tom, was scheduled to go to an inpatient mental health facility. He suffered with bipolar depression and alcohol and was visibly, viscerally depressed for the month before his death. My brother went upstairs to take a shower in preparation for the trip, and our father left the house with a hunting rifle and took his life.

No one had told us to secure the firearms in the home. No one told us not to leave our father alone for a second, that someone with a history of suicidal ideation was particularly at risk at this vulnerable time.

I feel that the healthcare system also failed our father, for as business owners before the American Healthcare Act, my parents were unable to secure health insurance when preexisting conditions exclusions were allowed.

Navigating the healthcare and mental health systems myself as a trauma survivor, I feel that we could do so much better. Mental health is healthcare and, I believe, a basic human right.

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