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From Tragedy to Triumph

By Alex McClintock

My name is Alex McClintock, and I am the spouse of US Army Staff Sergeant Matthew McClintock, who was KIA in Afghanistan on January 5, 2016. When my husband tragically passed away, leaving behind our son, who was only weeks old, it felt like the foundation of the family I had hoped to provide for him shattered. I believed I would be a solely responsible single parent, forever trying to follow in the footsteps of an incredible hero like my husband. Little did I know that this tragedy would sow the seeds for a family that would become more incredible and supportive than I could ever imagine. Despite the challenges and countless struggles, my journey as a mother has been enriched by the privilege of raising an amazing severely autistic seven-year-old boy named Declan.

Upon Declan’s diagnosis, I was given the standard expectation that he would struggle with social interaction and might not be able to lead an independent life. The picture of the future we had painted together changed once again. The question of whether he would ever comprehend my role as his mother loomed heavily over me. Through numerous appointments, therapies, camps, and tutoring sessions, Declan has defied expectations and surpassed every goal, often stretching beyond what my financial means could support. However, in our darkest moments, a ray of hope shone through. Special Operations Warrior Foundation stepped in to show us that unconditional love and support existed for us, making us feel like we had a family to rely on. Their assistance has been instrumental in nurturing Declan’s growth and providing him with the care he needs.

Recently, a new tutor was helping Declan at our home when a frightening incident occurred. Our house was targeted, and in a remarkable display of courage and dedication, she protected my son and our home until I, along with the police, arrived. Our chance to work with her was almost lost due to financial constraints, but once again, SOWF came to our rescue, quite literally saving the day.

While I’m filled with joy and gratitude for their unwavering support, nothing compares to the heartwarming moment when Declan said, “come on,” took my hand, led me to our beanbag chair, and pointed to a book he had set there, asking me to read it with him. As we snuggled together, he listened intently, defying the predictions that he would never talk. For this incredible progress and the chance to experience such heartwarming moments, I can never thank the Foundation enough. You all have believed in Declan, and in me as a mother, giving us the hope and support we needed to navigate this extraordinary journey. Thank you for giving him the chance to have this amazing life and thank you for giving us so much joy!

Alex McClintock is the surviving spouse and Declan is the son of US Army Staff Sergeant Matthew McClintock, who was KIA in Afghanistan on January 5, 2016, while serving with the 19th Special Forces Group.

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