When Michael was in high school, he got involved with some shady characters. He got into drugs. We put him into rehab 2 times during his 10th and 11 grades. We took him for all kinds of counseling and it was very hard for me. I would cry all the time. When he was doing drugs he would also cut himself on the chest and arms. Little cut nothing that required any medical attention. He would isolate himself in his room and listen to heavy metal music. When we would talk to him he would usually just like stare into space .I used to call it his Not Home Look. Anyway his problems in high school almost cost my marriage, as my husband just wanted to throw him out. (How can you do that to your own child?). My husband and I had MANY, MANY fights about it. I told him that I could NEVER write off my child!! I was the one that had to take Michael for his counseling and I was the one that took him to the 2 places to rehab. The second one was a place called Kidspeace. They worked wonders or so I thought. He seemed like his old self when he came out of there. He got a job and started working in school to bring his grades up. Everything seemed ok.
After he graduated high school (he had to go until Jan. of 96 to make up some classes that he failed. The school did allow him to participate in graduation ceremonies the June before'95 so he did graduate with his class just had to return to finish the other classes).
He left here in Cressona, Pa on April 16,1996 for Ft. Sill, OK for basic training. (My brother Jeff is a CSM there and was waiting for him. He took care of Michael while he was there. Took him home to his house for weekends etc..) Michael would call and write although he was never much of a writer. He was very artistic in drawing. He could draw anything that you wanted. (When he was on drugs his drawings were very grotesque.) He even drew the platoon's emblem or whatever you call it. They had t-shirts made up with the design he drew and all of the platoons names.
After he finished basic training he was sent to Ft. Bliss, Texas. In Sept. 1996 he came home for 2 weeks. While he was here he seemed very like himself. He still played video games (it was like an obsession with him). I remember 1 Christmas when he was about 13 he spent 18 hours playing a video game until he won it). Anyway he left to go back to Texas and at the airport I hugged him and told him that I loved him and to take care of himself and to write and call more. He hugged me back and said I love you Mom. That was the last time I ever saw my beautiful Michael!! He would call periodically and send pictures of Texas and some from Kuwait when he was over there. He got into mountain climbing and skydiving. He would send pictures of these things to us with a note. We would here from him sometimes not for 6 months and then he would call 4 or 5 times the next month. He was busy doing things is what he would say when I would ask how come it was 6 months since we heard form him.
He called on Sept. 26,1998(the day before my birthday) to tell me that he had an accident skydiving and broke his ankle in a couple of places. He had surgery on it about a month before. It happened in July. Anyway he talked about thew accident and about going back to Saudi Arabia after he healed from his ankle. I asked him if he was going to skydive again and he said yep, as soon as his ankle healed. But that he didn't trust the rented parachutes anymore so he bought his own. Then he was sure that it would open. He talked to me for about 1 1/2 hours. He said that he would be home that year for Christmas. I told him to let us know when and I would get him at the airport. I told him that I loved him and to take care of himself and to call and write to us, that was the last time I ever heard from him.
In April 2000 he re-enlisted for 6 more years. My brother Jeff would keep track of Michael by emailing Michaelís CSM. He would ask how he was etc...We didn't want to get Michael into trouble for not writing or calling home. So Jeff would ask as his Uncle. Then he would call me and let me know how Michael was doing.
In Sept.2000 Michael's mail started coming here to Pa. We didn't know what was going on. We called Texas and all they would tell us was that he was Hon. Discharged and that he was over 21 and had a right to privacy. Even Jeff could not find out more. So from Sept. until Memorial Day May28, 2001 we had no idea where Michael was or if he was ok. On Memorial Day I got a phone call from a Funeral home in Huntington, WV. They told me that they had a Michael Lee Nevils there and did I know his SS# I gave it to them and they said, "Yes, it's him." I asked what happened and they said "Mam, He committed suicide. I asked if it was drugs and they said I hate to tell you this but he hung himself in his apartment. My world as I knew ceased to exist at that very moment!! They found us in Pa. by his SS#. He had nothing there to tell them where he was from. His driverís license was issued in Texas. If it had not been Memorial weekend they would have found us sooner thru the military.
We have now found out that he was discharged Honorable for a medical discharge for Mental illness. He was diagnosed Manic-depressive with borderline tendencies. (Remember back in high school) The dr. in the army waived treatment and wanted him out, Michaelís SGT. and CSM fought to keep him but the DR. went over their heads to put him out. How could he do that he said that Michael was a time bomb waiting to go off? (I have all the paperwork from the service and that was the Dr. words.) How could that man throw him out and bot even bother to treat him when he said that he was a time bomb waiting to go off!!!!!!!
We have found out a lot of things since May28, 2001. We went from knowing nothing to putting all the pieces together.
He left instructions that he wanted to be cremated and that he was Honorably discharged from the service so they owed him a burial and he wanted to be buried in Ft. Bliss, El Paso, Texas. So thatís what I did. I don't even have a grave to go to as I live in Cressona, Pa. I will probably never get to Texas again. Sometimes that is very hard on me. I did take pictures of his grave so that I can look at them anytime that I want.
My husband and Chad didn't go to Texas. My mom and 2 sisters went with me and my 1 brother Jeff drove down from OK, with his wife and daughter. There were about 25 service people there including Michael's CSM.
We had a Memorial Service here in Pa before I went to Texas to bury him. We felt that we had to do something here as he lived here for 18 1/2 years.
Michael died on May 23,2001 It took 2 days (almost) until he was found. His landlord realized that he hadn't seen Michael since Monday, May21. The landlord talked to Michael that night and he said that he said, "good night Mike, c-ya tomorrow. And Michael said Yeah, C-ya and then went up to his apartment. No one saw him again. On Thursday night, May 24th the landlord went up to Michael's apartment and tried to get in to see if everything was ok and he couldn't open the door because it was bolted from the inside. So, he called the police. They broke a window on the door and got in. It was a very small apartment. A kitchen then bedroom then bathroom.
In the doorway of the bedroom Michael had hung up a curtain so you couldn't see into the bedroom. ON the curtain he put a note that read "DO NOT ENTER!! SUICIDE AREA!! CALL POLICE!! When they moved the curtain they saw Michael sitting on the floor in the bathroom doorway with the rope around his neck connected to a 2x4 he placed in the doorframe. He had turned the AC up all the way in case it took them a couple of days to find him.
He also left a note on the bed and he apologized for the mess and for any trauma that he caused anyone that found him. The police said that he was dead for a day or two when they found him. They said that the apartment was spotless and that he caused no mess. Everything he had there was stacked neatly for whomever to pick up. He had everything very organized. He wanted to cause the least amount of trouble for anyone that had to get his things. The police couldn't believe all the things that he did so no one would have trouble getting his things out of there.
Michael died about 2:30am on May23, 2001. We know this from the things on his pc that we have found since. He also put his death date on classmates.com. One of his buddies from the service saw it on there about 2 weeks before he died. He told Michael's SGT. about it after the SGT. Told him that Michael was dead. Then he told him about seeing that on there about 2 weeks prior. So for some reason Michael picked May 23 to do this. But on his death certificate his date of death is listed as May 25,2001. It says that he was found then. I guess that in WV> they put the date found. We told them that he died on May 23 but it is still listed as the 25th.
On his marker at the cemetery in Ft. Bliss, TEXAS his death date is also May 25 because they go by the death cert. It doesn't matter to me because he died on May 23 no matter what it says. I hope that Michael's story can help someone else thru this terrible time.
07/24/77 - 05/23/01