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Nicholas Handlin

“Nicholas loved all animals and joined the Army when he found out that there was a position that would enable him to take care of animals used on military bases and in combat. Once he had signed up, he was told there were no such positions available; however, there were medic positions of which he would be qualified. He was terribly disappointed, but he worked hard and was able to complete all of the training necessary to become a Medic, and he was very happy and proud of himself. He never told his family what he went through while in the Army; however, I will be forever grateful for his fellow comrades that reached out after his death and made me understand the reason that so many they served with had died by suicide. The comrades I spoke with did not believe that Nick died by suicide, as they said that he was the strong one in Iraq and was funny and did dances when others were scared and hot. Always the comic, he tried to cheer them up even in the midst of 120 degree heat. After coming home after the Army, Nick followed his dream and went back to school to be a Farrier. He bought a truck and a trailer and started living his dream. Throughout the first year, he continuously said that he was so grateful to not be in Iraq; however, as time ran on, moodiness became far more frequent and while the family knew something was not right, we had no idea what was going on as Nick was very closed and did not communicate with the family. While I saw him fairly frequently, I no longer felt like I knew him. Despite all this, I was totally blindsided when he did not show up to work and did not return his calls. I sped over to his house and thank goodness, the police showed up before me and stopped me from going in. It has been almost 5 years; however, I try to keep his memory alive and share his story so that he would not die in vain.” Shared by his mother, Penny. She continues, “Nicholas died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. This came as a total shock and devastation to family as he never voiced his concerns or issues, other than speaking to the VA doctor about it. Nick said the doctor was not concerned and to let him (the doctor) know if it became a continuous issue. We had never heard of the high rate of suicide, which is why I try to share Nick’s story as much as possible. I am not sure anything would’ve been different had I heard of the 22 Too Many, but there are definitely further conversations that would have been held had I known.”

Nicholas P. Handlin age 35 of Clinton died unexpectedly on Monday August 10, 2015 in his home. He was born September 22, 1979 in Elgin, IL. Nicholas graduated from Harlem High School, class of 1997. He continued his studies at Rock Valley and the Heartland Horseshoeing School in Lamar, Missouri. Nicholas enlisted into the U.S. Army and served in Iraq until his honorable discharge in 2011. He enjoyed fishing, golfing and family gatherings. Nicholas loved horses and established the Handlin’s Farrier Service that he owned and operated until his death. Nicholas will be remembered as a thoughtful helpful son, brother and friend.

Hometown: Clinton, Wisconsin
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