For Some, the War Never Ends

Memories of Honor is making every day Memorial Day
By Michael Clements
Michael Clements
Michael Clements
Michael Clements focuses mainly on the Second Amendment and individual rights for The Epoch Times. He has more than 30 years of experience in print journalism, having worked at newspapers in Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma. He is based in Durant, Oklahoma.
February 2, 2023Updated: February 9, 2023

Pfc. Logan White served two tours in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in May 2011. But his family says Logan’s war did not end until Sept. 26, 2017, after an accidental heroin overdose.

“People should know there are other ways that people can lose their lives to war than just being killed in action,” Logan’s widow, Alyse, told The Epoch Times.

One group wants to ensure that Logan’s service and the service of other fallen combat veterans is honored, regardless of how, when, or where they died.

“Our mission is to make every day Memorial Day,” Amy Cotta, founder and executive director of Memories of Honor, told The Epoch Times.

Epoch Times Photo
Mark Lorrin (Left), and John Pascale (Center Left), both of SKAB Engineering write letters of gratitude to the families of fallen veterans during the 2023 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nev. as Dr. Tracy Uribe (Center Right) and Amy Cotta (Right), both of Memories of Honor, watch. (Michael Clements/The Epoch Times)

Alyse White lives in Dallas, Texas, near her former in-laws. She says society tries to divide a veteran’s military life from his civilian life. One day he will be a soldier serving with others under circumstances that only a few will ever experience. And the next day, he’s expected to transition to the civilian world where he’s just another coworker, husband, friend, and neighbor.

On the exterior, it may appear that the transition is seamless. In family photos, Logan is a handsome young man riding his motorcycle, getting married, and enjoying life with his family and friends. But, for the combat veteran and his family, that separation is never so clear-cut. Many veterans, like Logan, bring home physical and psychological wounds. is a website that provides information on veteran mental health and substance abuse. It also provides a way for vets in trouble to find help. The site reports that 11 percent of veterans who visit a Veterans Administration (VA) facility report substance use disorder. The most common is binge drinking, with 80 percent, or 900,000, reporting problems with alcohol in 2020.

About 300,000, or 27 percent, reported issues with illicit drugs, and 7 percent, or 80,000, abused both. While Logan did drink socially, his family said his biggest struggle began with opioids and segued into heroin. They said he turned to drugs to alleviate the physical pain and mental anguish that remained after he left military service.

Logan’s father, Brian White, told The Epoch Times that the veteran’s family and friends try to fill the void left when military buddies are separated. For mothers, fathers, wives, and other loved ones, the war goes on as long as the veteran struggles with the ghosts of the battlefield. And it continues after the veteran’s struggle is over.

Epoch Times Photo
Logan and his mother, Kimberly White, during a Christmas visit. (Brian White)

“[Logan’s death] was a result of his self-medicating because of PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury),” White said. “The loss for us is as traumatic as for those families who had someone killed in combat.”

The Whites remember Logan as a rowdy, fun-loving boy who loved adventure and excitement. Logan loved the outdoors and especially loved riding motorcycles. Whether it was a dirt bike or his favorite Harley-Davidson, Logan loved the adrenaline-laced rush of two wheels on the road and the wind in his face.

Brian White was surprised in May 2008 when Logan told him he had enlisted in the Army. The Whites are Oklahoma natives who had relocated to Dallas for Brian White’s job. He said Logan was not a bad kid or a troublemaker, but he had a strong will.

“He’s the last person I would have expected to enlist. He liked to challenge authority,” Brian White said.

Logan’s mother, Kimberly White, was equally surprised. She said that Logan had tried military school at one point, which didn’t work very well at all. But it made a little more sense when she learned that Combat Engineers, the military occupation Logan had chosen, work with explosives.

“If he could blow stuff up and not get into trouble for it, he was like, ‘Yeah!’” Kimberly White said.

Epoch Times Photo
Logan on duty in Iraq. (Brian White)

Brian White is an Army veteran, having served in the artillery in the 1980s. On the one hand, he was proud of his son’s desire to serve; on the other hand, he was a concerned father.

When Brian White served, America was in a “Cold War.” The enemy was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. And the prospective battlefield was Europe’s damp, green fields and forests. Brian White and his brothers in arms prepared for the possibility of war that, thankfully, never came. But Logan and his peers weren’t facing the mere prospect of war.

“I’m proud of him for making that decision, but as a parent, you’re concerned,” Brian White said. “It was not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when.”

No one was more keenly aware of that than Kimberly White. She convinced herself that once Logan completed his training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, he would be sent to a stateside unit and given time to learn more before he was sent overseas. Surely they wouldn’t send brand-new recruits directly into combat, right?

From Fort Leonard Wood, Logan was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas, The Big Red One.

“Literally, he was there two weeks, and there was a deployment,” Kimberly White said.
She stayed in Kansas for the deployment ceremony and the days after until Logan’s unit left for Iraq. She made sure that Logan didn’t see her cry.

“I might have cried all the way home, but the last he saw of me was not going to be me crying,” Kimberly White said.

Cotta said the Whites’ situation is one faced by thousands of other parents. Including herself. Her son is an active-duty Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant married to an active-duty Marine Corps Staff Sergeant. She knows what it is to see a child leave for an uncertain future. Cotta said her desire to honor her son’s service was the seed that grew into Memories of Honor.

Epoch Times Photo
Logan and Alyse White on their wedding day. Alyse said there was some benefit in her not having met Logan prior to the war. (Brian White)

Cotta’s son enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps when he was 17. She took up running to deal with her anxiety and show support for her son and other active-duty service members. But, rather than run in regular, run-of-the-mill jogging shoes, she chose the footwear worn by those she wanted to honor—combat boots.

Eventually, she added a military rucksack to her running gear. Then she began writing the names of active duty and fallen veterans on paper and displaying them on her gear as she continued to run to raise money for military charities. From this grew Memories of Honor. Memories of Honor works with athletic events, entertainment venues, or any event that wants to help honor veterans and their families.

One of the most recent Memories of Honor events was held at the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s 45th annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. SHOT stands for the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoors Trade Show. At the Vegas event, Troy Acoustics sponsored a Wall of Honor.

Visitors were allowed to select a family of a fallen veteran from the wall and write them a note of gratitude, encouragement, and support. At the end of the SHOT Show, the letters were gathered up and delivered to the families so they would know that people remember and appreciate the sacrifices their loved ones made.

William Bergaidis is the founder and chief executive officer of Troy Acoustics. His company sells acoustic panels and building materials for shooting ranges, recording studios, highway noise barriers, and any other application in which noise mitigation is needed. He first met Cotta when Memories of Honor was at the U.S. Army National Guard Convention in 2022.

He was impressed with the group’s desire to ensure that veterans are not forgotten. He decided he wanted Troy Acoustics to be part of their work.

‘You Hear It One Time’

“These [veterans] go out, and you hear it one time on the news, then it goes away,” Bergaidis said. “You don’t hear the stories of all the people that are touched.”

Like many military families, the Whites watched the news. They kept in touch with Logan through telephone calls and emails and prayed for his safety. Logan didn’t tell them much about his life during his two deployments.

Brian White figured Logan didn’t want them to worry. But one day, Logan called, and he could tell by the tone of his voice and hesitant speech that something had happened. As Logan was a combat engineer, his unit was tasked with finding and disposing of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Sometimes that went well, and sometimes it did not.

“Logan said, ‘There was an incident. I was scanning my sector and saw a flash of light and woke up in the troop compartment,’” Brian White said.

Logan had been riding in the gunner’s position of an armored vehicle on patrol with his unit. His vehicle had been struck by an IED. The blast forced his face into the machine gun in front of him before he dropped into the passenger compartment, unconscious. He had broken his nose, injured his neck, and gotten a concussion.

Bomb Blast First of Many

The explosion destroyed the vehicle and killed one of his friends. It was the first of many explosions Logan was to be exposed to.

Because of those experiences, Logan became subject to hyper-vigilance. Even though he knew he was no longer on the battlefield, he couldn’t help keeping an eye out for threats.

Logan told Alyse that he was once driving his grandfather’s pickup truck and saw a gas can and a length of rope on the side of the road. He almost couldn’t drive past it because the rope reminded him of the triggering devices he had seen in Iraq. He told his father it could be a problem when trying to get somewhere.

“He said, ‘If I see a dog or some trash on the side of the road, I just tense up,’” Brian White said.

Kimberly White said that was just one of the changes she saw. She said her boy, who had loved fireworks and family get-togethers, could no longer handle loud noises or crowds. It became commonplace for them to be at a family reunion or some other event and suddenly notice that Logan was gone. Sometimes the noise and crowds got to be more than he could handle, so he left.

‘He Had a Different View’

Brian White introduced Alyse and Logan at a military event they attended together. She was attracted to Logan’s unaffected air and willingness to do what he thought was right regardless of how he might be perceived.

“He had a different view of things and wasn’t concerned with going against the grain. He did what he wanted to do as long as it wasn’t hurting anyone else,” Alyse White said.

She believes one benefit of their meeting when they did was that she didn’t know Logan before the war. So he was not pressured to “go back to who he was.” The only Logan she knew was the Logan who was doing his best to adjust to his new life.

In their wedding pictures, they are an attractive young couple with their whole lives ahead of them. In another photo, Logan is dancing with his mother. Brian White laughs as he shows a picture of himself with a stunned look. He said that just before she snapped the photo, Kimberly White told him she had agreed to cover the bar for the reception as a gift to Logan and Alyse.

Logan would sometimes open up to his new wife, but she doesn’t believe he told her everything. He talked of losing friends, being afraid, and playing soccer with children one day who the next day might be pressed into service as suicide bombers. Sometimes, after a drink or two with his friends, he would tell stories. But in his sleep, he relived the stories he didn’t tell. He dealt with the nightmares, dreams, and memories he avoided during the day.

Epoch Times Photo
Logan and mom Kimberly dance on the day of his wedding. (Brian White)

And he went to the Veterans Administration (VA) for help. But, according to his family, the VA did no more good than telling stories and drinking beer. It wasn’t that they didn’t try, but the programs were built on a model that worked for civilians. Most had a 30 or 90-day component and included group meetings but did little to plumb the depths of the psychology of the combat veteran.

Brian White accompanied Logan on one of his first visits. During the intake interview, a nurse asked Logan if he had been exposed to bomb blasts or explosions. He said he had. She asked how many.

“He said, ‘I stopped counting at 17,’” Brian White said.

Logan went to his appointments because there was nothing else he could do. But he was reassigned to a new counselor every few months. Each reassignment meant retelling his story, which, to Logan, seemed like moving in reverse. In addition, he was prescribed a raft of medications to help deal with his myriad issues.

“He said, ‘A pill didn’t break me. A pill’s not going to fix me,’” Brian White said.

Logan’s service-related injuries were complicated by motorcycle wrecks he had after returning to Texas. The pain relievers he was prescribed didn’t always work and were often hard to get through the system. Logan found that heroin was readily available, cheap, and effective.

He Knew He Had a Problem

Kimberly White said her son knew he had a problem and wanted help, but the programs he went to were geared toward the “normal” addict.

Logan told her of a group session in which they were asked to describe the worst thing they had done because of their drug addiction. Logan wasn’t sure how to answer. He didn’t do the worst things he had done because of drugs; he used drugs because of the worst things he had done.

“He said, ‘Someone said they forgot to pick their kid up from school. And I’m like, really, that’s the worst thing you did?’” Kimberly White recalled.

Then, Logan found Warrior’s Heart.

He Found Warrior’s Heart

Warrior’s Heart is a San Antonio-based facility established and run by former soldiers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, first responders, and others who have seen the worst that man does to man. They understand that service often costs more than expected, and those who serve need help dealing with the mix of strong and conflicting emotions. They knew the battle Logan was fighting.

Brian White said Logan began to make progress there.

Logan completed the program’s initial phase to detox and started his recovery, and moved into the sober living facility. From all appearances, he was on his way out of the darkness. Then came the relapse. Brian White said they will never know what triggered it.

He left Warrior’s Heart, telling his friends he had a job interview in San Antonio. Instead, he drove to Dallas to find his drug dealer. His usual dealer was not available, so he bought some heroin from a dealer he didn’t know as well. He then went to a friend’s house and asked to use their bathroom. The friends reportedly knew what Logan was probably doing, but Kimberly White said Logan was a grown man.

“He’s only going to do what he wants to do,” she said.

Epoch Times Photo
Alyse White says goodbye to her husband of less than a year on the day of his funeral. (Brian White)

After about 30 minutes, unable to get any response from Logan, they broke the bathroom door. Logan was unresponsive. They called 911 and tried to resuscitate him until the ambulance arrived. Logan was taken to RH Dedman Memorial Medical Center. At first, it appeared he had a fighting chance.

The emergency room doctors placed him on a ventilator, and his body was fighting the machine, which doctors said was a sign of brain activity. But his heart stopped, and he had to be revived three times. They got Logan’s heart beating, but he had been deprived of oxygen, and it became clear there was no more brain activity. It appeared the nightmares had finally caught up with him.

Logan’s war finally ended on Sept. 26, 2017.

But a new fight began for the Whites that day. The first battle was centered on Logan’s body. Logan was an organ donor, which didn’t surprise his parents. They were proud of their son’s desire to help others even after his life was over. So, as they began grieving, they spent the rest of the week handling the administrative and legal tasks that go along with gifting a loved one’s organs to help others live.

At one point, some of the hospital staff were discussing Logan’s organs and were understandably excited at the prospect of being able to help people in desperate need. They likely didn’t realize Logan’s family was within earshot. But it became more than Kimberly White could bear.

“I don’t remember what I told them, but it probably wasn’t very nice,” Kimberly White said. “I just got tired of hearing ‘brain dead.’

“It was a long week.”

Epoch Times Photo
Logan’s ashes were interred in a casket so the tributes from his friends, including challenge coins from his friends at Warrior’s Heart, could go with him. (Brian White)

The Whites want people to remember that Logan and veterans like him sacrificed their time and lives in service to their country. Regardless of politics or ideology, they served so that others would not have to. Alyse White said there is a story about how members of the military have written a blank check to their country. The country can fill in that check for any amount, including the servicemember’s life.

“It doesn’t matter when that check is cashed. There’s a level of stigma for veterans who lose their lives to addiction or PTSD. But to me, it doesn’t feel any different.

“We are still proud of his service,” she said.

Brian White honors his son’s memory by volunteering with Memories of Honor because the organization honored Logan’s family. He said Memories of Honor’s work has done much to help his family deal with their grief and to keep Logan’s memory alive. According to Cotta, that is the organization’s most important work.

Memories of Honor will honor all fallen veterans regardless of how they died. Whether the servicemember died in combat, in a training accident, by suicide, or by physical or mental illness, they will be remembered.

“We wanted to make sure we created a space where anyone who lost a loved one during or due to active duty had a place,” Cotta said.

To register a veteran, visit and click on the “Honor The Fallen” tab. Once registered, the veteran and their family will be included among those memorialized by Memories of Honor. They are driven by the idea that no one truly dies until their name is spoken for the last time. Memories of Honor wants to ensure that doesn’t happen to any veteran, Cotta said.

“At any event, someone will say their loved one’s name.”