Mother of Green Berets uses life-changing moment to help better lives

It was in her grief over her son that this mother realized she had to do something.
Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 6:40 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Sept. 11, 2001, was a day that changed countless lives in the United States, and at the time, some people didn’t know just how their path would be forever altered.

After graduating from West Point in 1998, Darrin Baldwin entered the tail end of the Kosovo War. His mother, Fran Wesseling, says it was there that he found his calling.

“In doing so, he worked alongside the Special Forces Green Berets, and at 22 years old, he said, ‘Mom, I know what I am going to do with my career.’”

The day was Sept. 11, 2001, the day that would change Baldwin’s life forever.

“Before he left Germany, 9/11 occurred, and his wife would tell you today that changed their lives forever,” explains Wesseling. “Because he came back home, went right to the qualification school. Did what he had to qualify to become a Green Beret and in six months was in Iraq in 2004.”

While stationed in Iraq, Baldwin was hit by an IED.

“[He] lived for 15 years with a brain damage progression that didn’t allow him to do anything for himself, lost his ability to speak,” says Wesseling.

It was in her grief over her son that Wesseling realized she had to do something.

“In 2014, after we spent some really tough days with him, not realizing his life would change so dramatically,” recalls Wesseling. “I turned to my husband and said, ‘I have to do something to make a difference in someone’s life so their spouses don’t have to go through what we did, or I am going to be the most depressed person.’”

It was then that Wesseling came across the Green Beret Foundation and discovered what she was looking for.

“On an annual basis, [Green Beret Foundation] supports about 6,000 Green Berets and their families,” explains Wesseling. “Investing since 2009 over $8.5 million to support them with programs, services, therapies. Medical care, medical devices that they can’t get through the VA or the Department of Defense or military insurance.”

Wesseling says the Cincinnati chapter is always looking for board members, and since 2015, they have raised more than $3 million for the Green Beret.

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