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Gold Star mom of first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq shares hope

"There are still days of grief. Just because you choose to do something positive with your grief, doesn't mean it goes away," said the soldier's mom.

In a one-on-one interview with 12 News, the mother of the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq opens up about how her son’s death is still impacting others.

Through an organization she created following his passing, she’s able to bring other Gold Star families and loved ones of our troops encouragement and hope through loss and injuries.

“He stood in the life of fire and willingly gave his life,” said Debbie Lee, whose son Marc was killed in action on August 2, 2006.

“He was the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq,” she said.

Receiving that devastating news, of course changed her life.

“When you receive word like that… our brains, our hearts, our bodies are not meant to accept and absorb that,” she said. “There are still days of grief. Just because you choose to do something positive with your grief, doesn’t mean it goes away.”

But today, she chooses to stay positive. forever thankful for his sacrifice.

“I’m very proud of that young man,” she said. “I look forward to the day when I get to see him again.” Marc’s last letter home talked about doing more random acts of kindness.

“He said when was the last time you paid for a stranger’s cup of coffee or a meal or a tank of gas,” said Lee. “Pass on the kindness, the love, the precious gift of human life.”

She says that letter has literally has impacted millions and millions of lives around the world. Debbie founded America’s Mighty Warriors.

“We have a house here called the Heroes Hope Home, where families of the fallen can come stay for free… we do retreats in Texas for our Gold Star families and for our purple heart recipients and their families,” she said. “My goal is just to make sure that all of our gold star families are taken care of, that they know that they’re loved, that they’re appreciated.”

Right now, she’s working with the Corte Bella Veterans group, packing Christmas Stocking to send to our troops.

“You know the first man on the moon, first person to do heart surgery, those things, but I’m just as proud of Marc for what he did, being the first SEAL killed in Iraq as I am as if he’d had done those other things.”

Debbie relies on her faith to give her the strength she needs to go on, to bring others hope and encouragement.

“He was redeployed to heaven and I will see that young man again,” she said.

Debbie has traveled across the country a number of times visiting Iraq in 2007 and 2010, becoming the first Gold Star mom to visit the combat zone where her son died.