Christopher Damon Kass, age 26 of San Marcos, California went to be with Jesus on March 28, 2016. He was born on February 9, 1990 in Jacksonville, Florida. The son of a sailor and a naval base neonatal nurse, John and Pamela Kass respectively. Chris was raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and San Diego, California Naval bases with his only sibling, younger brother Anthony Kass. He graduated from Mission Hills High School in 2008.
Following high school, Chris accepted the courageous call in his heart to the U.S. Marine Corp. Christopher attended boot camp at MCRD and upon graduation attended the SOI at Camp Pendleton. As a gunfighter in the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment Chris bravely trained, fought, and lived the motto of his battalion “Ready For All – Yield To None”. Tragically, Chris conceded to mental illness after a long and valiant effort to find peace once he returned from deployment and honorable discharge.
He was last employed with Best Buy working for the Geek Squad. His passion was for computers, especially computer wargame challenges with his marine buddies and online friends. He loved hiking, camping, bicycling and enjoying nature. Long before the Marines, Chris lived their motto in his daily life, “no man left behind.” He offered financial support to children in Africa through Save the Children and became a bone marrow donor. He cared deeply about the everyday struggles of the homeless and frequently stopped to lend a helping hand, an ear, or a meal to those whom he met. Chris was always on duty–no one was left behind in his supersized heart. Above all, Chris cherished family life and the time that he spent with his brother and parents.
He is survived by his parents, John and Pamela Kass, and brother Anthony Kass, his grandmother, Dorothy Kass, and forty-three aunts, uncles, cousins, and countless friends across the U.S., all who will miss him dearly. A memorial service will be held at New Venture Christian Fellowship in 4000 Mystra Drive Oceanside, CA on April 22, 2016 at 3:00 pm. The funeral service was held in Jackson, OH. In memory of Christopher, the family invites you to consider a donation to The MENdleton Foundation (www.mendleton.com). Condolences may be shared online at www.lewisgillumfuneralhomes.com.
Suicide sweeps California based Marine Corps unit
AT LEAST 25 MARINES WHO SERVED WITH THE 2/7 HAVE TAKEN THEIR OWN LIVES SINCE 2009.
April 22, 2016
by Amy DuPont
OCEANSIDE, Calif. — We’ve heard the staggering statistic that 22 veterans commit suicide every day. That statistic may be a low estimate.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs study that released the number covered suicide rates in 21 states. Data from states with the highest population of veterans, including California, was not included. CW6’s Amy DuPont meet with Marines from a California-based unit that has suffered more casualties from suicide than combat.
Pamela Kass knew this day was coming. She knew she would bury her son. Pamela knew her son Christopher couldn’t heal from the invisible wounds he suffered serving his country. She knew she couldn’t save him and that Christopher was unable to save himself.
Chris served with and deployed with the 2nd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment based out of Twenty Nine Palms until he left the Marine Corps in 2013. That’s when, like too many other Marines from the 2/7, Chris starting to give up on life.
“We’re doing something wrong. We’re letting them die. We ask them to serve our country to help another but then we’re not ensuring they are okay. That mentally they are okay. I don’t get it,” says Pamela.
Suicide has spread through the 2/7 like a virus. According to men who once served with the unit, at least 25 Marines from the 2/7 have committed suicide since 2009.
“I don’t count anymore. More people out of the 2/7 have died because of suicide than combat,” say former 2/7 Marine Eric Durosky.
Chris joined the ranks of the fallen on March 28, one month after his 26th birthday. His mom says because Chris was over 18 and he refused to seek treatment there was nothing she could do.
“We tried our best to get help for him. I think the system failed him. We begged for help for him, and we failed him.”
No one understands why the suicide rate among men of the 2/7 is four times the rate of other young male veterans. The men who’ve taken their own lives served at different times and in different conflicts. Some were fired upon. Others were not.
Members of the 2/7 believe saving lives needs to start long before all men leave active duty.
“It needs to be done in house. It needs to be veterans. It needs to be people in that unit that talk each other and say I’ve felt that way before. You can get through it, don’t take that way out. It’s not a way out.”
Pamela Kass knew she would bury her son. Now she knows 25 other moms have done the same. She prays she is the last.
“I don’t want to see someone else go through the same pain we are going through. If we can save a life maybe more then he doesn’t die in vain.”
The Mendleton foundation is helping at-risk California veterans find one another. Members, many of whom served, pour over social media pages and reach out to vets who post anything that appears to be a cry for help. The foundation also help families like Chris’ by providing them with uniform items at funerals: www.mendleton.com
The VA also offers a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline. If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. You can also text 838255.