By Annette P. Gomes, Warrior Care and TransitionDecember 11, 2017
ARLINGTON, Va. - During his 25 years tenure, (Ret) Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Caselle faced many tough assignments. He deployed overseas as an Army Medical Service Corp. Officer, but he never envisioned his biggest battle would be closer to home. In April of 2016, his daughter Sienna committed suicide.
"She came home from a date with her boyfriend, went to her room and sometime that night, entered her closet, placed her favorite belt around her neck and hung herself. I found her the next morning hanging in her closet, still wearing her clothes from the night before," Caselle recalled
Described as smart, vivacious young lady with an uplifting attitude and perpetual infectious smile, Sienna's motto was "Live the story you want to tell."
"She was a good kid. There were no obvious signs that anything like this was going to happen. She was an A student, lettered in track and cross country, inducted into three honor societies. She worked at the assisted living facility in Emmitsburg, Maryland delivering meals to the residents." Caselle said "Just one month prior to her death, she attained her level 1 certification from the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI). She was also a very giving and caring person. She volunteered teaching and training persons with disabilities in programs across the country."
Caselle says Sienna's volunteerism helped them forge a strong bond. At the age of 11, she joined her dad in helping to teach and train persons with disabilities in various programs across the country; particularly adaptive sports.
"She went with me every chance she could. She called herself my partner in crime and when she was introduced to someone new, she told them we were a package deal," Caselle said. "It was said that she never saw a person's disability, just their ability. This attitude made all the people she worked with very comfortable being around her."
Caselle quickly turned the pain of losing his daughter into passion. In 2016 on May 12, Sienna's birthday, he developed One Way or Another, a nonprofit organization which by offers experiences with recreational sports, such as "sit water skiing," to help build confidence and self-esteem in persons with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. Since Sienna's death, he has expanded his mission to include at-risk Veterans and teens.
Recently, Caselle, along with more than 80 participants made up of Army Commanders, Command Sergeant Majors and Clinicians from Warrior Transition Battalions around the nation hit Fort Belvoir, Virginia's Wells Gymnasium to speak about the topic.
"It's a void that can't go way, the loss of life. Approximately 22 Veterans and one active-duty service member take their lives every day. This is my way of giving back to the community. The mission is to carry on with the ideal that no one with a disability should be treated differently and that we should all try to find the ability within them," Caselle said.
Caselle says since its inception, the free program has helped more than 500 individuals with disabilities, family members and volunteers achieve goals, learn a new skill, relax, enjoy life and gain new perspectives through partnerships and by offering individual and group experiences. It also serves as a tribute to Sienna's legacy.
"I've said this every day since Sienna took her life, the sun came up today. When we feel like we're at our darkest, we need to know that the sun still comes out."
To learn more about One Way or Another; logon onto
https://www.owora.org/ . If you or someone you know is in need of emotional support call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-342-8647.