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Shelby Duessel is the daughter of U.S. Army Major Darryl Duessel.  “My dad was my absolute best friend,” she explained.  “Even though he was gone often during my childhood for work, I consider him to the person who truly made me who I am.  In elementary school, teachers often asked us to name our hero and my father was always who I chose.” Major Duessel passed away in 2016 due to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

With help from Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation (Fallen Patriots), Shelby is studying health science at Truman State University and plans to earn her master’s degree in counseling.  She has always been intrigued by careers in the health field, but realized how important it is for patients to have a guiding hand when her dad got sick. “I gained a passion for counseling through my own experience in therapy, learning to cope with the loss of my father.  I hope to ease the mind of family members and provide necessary information as it is extremely difficult to watch a loved one struggle physically and emotionally.” Her ultimate goal is to be a health coach and work with individuals and their families to manage substance abuse/addiction or chronic disease concerns. 

Shelby believes her dad would be most proud of her for keeping her head up and achieving her goals – even in the hardest times.  “My father was an extremely well-respected service man; maintaining the legacy of his name is one of my biggest motivators.”

“Fallen Patriots has been a supportive, reliable organization that has given me the opportunity to achieve my academic goals. The stress of college has been drastically decreased by the assistance they have provided me with.”

There are approximately 20,000 children who have lost an active duty parent in the military over the last 35 years.  The vision of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation is to ensure that every such child receives all necessary college funding.