On Oct. 29, 2018, Navy SEAL Chad Wilkinson took his own life.
“He was my husband, he was my teammate, he was at home, he wasn’t on foreign soil, and it was my watch,” says Sara Wilkinson, Chad’s wife. “There’s a lot of shame and guilt and regret that comes to people and families who’ve lost someone to suicide. And I carry that, too.”
During his many deployments across more than two decades of service, Chad suffered from several traumatic brain injuries, blast-wave injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He is one of more than 30,000 active-duty personnel and veterans who have died by suicide in the post-9/11 era.
“That’s an alarming statistic,” Sara says.
Though she bears grief that will last a lifetime, Sara, a former CrossFit Seminar Staff Trainer, has chosen to honor her husband’s memory by sharing his story — and inviting others to show their support for service members on Veterans Day by completing the Hero workout Chad, a workout inspired by Chad’s mountain-climbing training protocol.
1,000 box step-ups for time
Use a 20-inch box and 45-lb ruck.
CrossFit athletes are invited to complete the workout in affiliates or at home on Nov. 11 and to register for Chad1000X, a fundraiser founded in Chad’s honor to raise awareness for suicide prevention. All proceeds support veteran mental-health initiatives through the Step Up Foundation.
“The veteran suicide epidemic is huge,” Sara says, “and so if I could share his story and shed light onto the struggle that they face and do it over Veterans Day as a testimony to all of our men and women that are serving this country that might be struggling that ‘we stand with you’ and ‘we see you,’ then maybe it could do some good.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, dial “988” for 24/7 free and confidential support and resources.