Emily Carnes is a mother and college student, but her biggest difficulty in life is living without her father. Her father, Clifford Neil Brackeen, passed away in a motorcycle accident while on his way to work at the Missouri Air National Guard. A child occurred on the scene and prayed with him while he was still breathing; sadly he died a few minutes later.

“As morbid as it sounds, he would have been happy going out in his fatigues,” explained Emily.


Emily’s favorite memory of her dad occurred in the winter of 2012, when he came to stay with her for a few days. Neither her father nor she had work, and Emily’s kids didn’t have school, so the family was able to spend time together playing in the snow.  Together they made snow angels, and had endless snow ball fights.

On Veteran’s Dad, Emily’s dad used to come to the Veteran’s Day program at her children’s school. It was their family tradition for about three years.

“My dad was always proud of me! Always. In everything that I did, no matter how great or how stupid, he stood behind me and was there to either cheer me on or yell at me,” explained Emily. “Most of all, I know he’d be proud that I went back to school.”


Through the help of generous donors, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation has helped Emily attend college. Every donation helps bridge the gap in the cost of college education for military children like Emily.

Emily’s future goal is achieve her Bachelor’s degree in social work, and become a counselor, helping people with drug issues. Currently, she is working on her Associates degree.

When asked what advice she’d give another gold star military child, Emily said, “It’s going to suck for a really long time. The pain, the breathlessness when you see something that reminds you of them, the emptiness in your chest…It really doesn’t end. But in time, it will lessen. Don’t try to keep your feelings in check. Let them come out and explode if you need them too.”