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North Dakota military families push to rename overpass in Jamestown

The state House bill to name the overpass was sponsored by Rep. Bernie Satrom of Jamestown.

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Thomas Doyle and Brittany Wallace both served and deployed with the North Dakota National Guard. Their families asked the state Legislature on Friday to name an overpass in Jamestown, in honor of those who served, returned home and died by suicide.
Contributed / Doyle and Wallace families
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BISMARCK — It is much more than renaming a bridge. It is the story of North Dakota veterans who served, but came home after war and fought internal battles of their own.

Emotional testimony was heard at a state House hearing Friday, Jan. 20, as families of veterans spoke in support of a bill, sponsored by Rep. Bernie Satrom, R-Jamestown, that would rename an overpass in Jamestown to "Hidden Wounds Veterans Overpass."

"Good morning everybody. This is my brother, Thomas Avery Doyle," said Doyle's sister, Jayme Morlock of Jamestown.

Tom Doyle, a deployed member of the North Dakota National Guard, was remembered by family on Friday and every day.

"Tom was everybody's friend. He wouldn't tell you he was hurting, but he'd be the first shoulder you could lean on," said Tom's mother, Beth Lautt of Jamestown. "He was a hard worker. If he saw something he wanted, he was going to work hard to get it."

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Doyle died by suicide in 2013. Since then, his family has worked to get veterans mental health issues on the front burner.

"We just wanted our soldiers' service to be recognized, because too often their deaths are recognized, and it isn't about they way they died. We know that war took them. Sometimes that's not acknowledged, but their service needs to be acknowledged and it hasn't been. And this will acknowledge their service," Lautt said.

Tom's sister, Jayme Morlock, testified in favor of renaming the Highway 281 overpass in Jamestown the "Hidden Wounds Veterans Overpass." Those working on behalf of veterans mental health issues, say it is time.

"The problem is, we have a problem," said Jim Nelson, AMVETS legislative director.

Brittany Wallace deployed with the North Dakota National Guard and worked alongside three friends who died in Iraq. She came home, but the pain and the loss continues. She died by suicide in 2012.

Gail Wanner talked about losing Wallace, his 29-year-old daughter.

"Everyone loved her, it was hard not to love her. She was one of those people who just sticks out in a crowd," Wanner said.

More from WDAY's Kevin Wallevand

"People go, 'what is wrong with you.' You can explain it, but they don't understand. She was an awesome daughter, (and) she had two little boys; 3 and 5, when she died," Wanner said.

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It is hoped renaming the overpass in Jamestown is more than just a roadside sign, but a move that sparks a conversation so that veterans and their families can get help and answers before it is too late, again.

Related Topics: JAMESTOWNBISMARCKVETERANS
Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

Contact Email: kwallevand@wday.com
Phone Number: (701) 241-5317
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