DLIFLC grad shaken by suicide shares son’s story

By Brian Lepley
Presidio of Monterey Public Affairs


Rob Miltersen shares the story of his son Thor’s suicide with Presidio of Monterey military and civilians at the Physical Fitness Center Sept. 14. He and his son both graduated from the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. (Photo by Brian Lepley, Presidio of Monterey Public Affairs)

MONTEREY, Calif. – The saddest task for a parent, it is said, is burying one of their children.

But sadder still, Rob Miltersen found out, is burying your 21-year old Airman First Class son after his suicide.

Thor Miltersen took his own life in 2014 while assigned to the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Maryland. He was a 2012 Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center graduate in Chinese Mandarin.

Rob was also an Air Force DLIFLC grad, in 1990, at the start of his 20-year career.

Staggering grief alters lives. Rob’s tragedy focused him to a mission of shouting from the rooftops about suicide prevention.

“The loss of one individual to suicide impacts many, up to more than a hundred family, friends and colleagues of that person,” he said. “They mourn the loss and are impacted with sadness and grief that is hard to understand, in turn, those individuals then find themselves in a higher risk category.”

On Sept. 14, Miltersen brought his suicide prevention presentation to DLIFLC, addressing a few hundred students and faculty.

“I think this generation of students are more in touch with their vulnerabilities than previous generations,” he said, “however, there is a general idea that we are all impervious to this kind of tragedy.

“Unfortunately the statistics tell a horribly different story.  Suicide impacts all of us in some way; to some of us it is incredibly personal.”

DLIFLC Chaplain (Maj.) Chan Ham was impressed by how personal and relatable Miltersen’s story was for the audience.

“I think it was a fitting message for DLI students, anyone, who can be exposed to those ideations,” Ham said.

Among the groups Miltersen has addressed on the issue are the Air Force War College faculty and students, the Georgia State Legislature and three times this year at the Presidio of Monterey to service members and employees.

“I wanted to bring this message here because I believe it was a story they could understand, that this (Thor) wasn’t just another sad person that we lost, but a DLI student, just like themselves,” Miltersen said.

Posted Date: 29 November 2017