LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - In 2004, Mike Cook was in Baghdad while serving a year-long tour of duty. During his service, his best friend was killed right in front of him when a bomb went off.
"He was next to his friend like not even three minutes before it happened. I know he was between 50 and 100 feet away. He was real close and he saw it happen," Marci Cook said.
The tragedy is now a bitter memory for the retired veteran; a memory that still haunts him as he struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Unable to talk to her husband about her struggles, Marci Cook decided the only way she could reach out to him was by making remembrance bracelets.
"He would always withdraw that day and so to be close to him and do my own thing because I don't push him, I started making the remembrance bracelets," Marci said.
Marci says she only makes one bracelet a year on January 7, which is the day the soldier lost his life eight years ago. She says she prefers to give the bracelets to veterans but will sometimes give it to family members who lost someone in battle.
Last year, she gave the bracelet to her good friend Stacy, who is the only person Mike can confide in about his struggles.
"It's humbling. It's humbling. I consider Mike a real hero," Stacy Clark said.
Marci says sometimes she has a hard time finding a perfect candidate to receive the bracelet and says in some years the search has taken up to six months.
She says the bracelet is incredibly important to her and she hopes whoever receives it this year will be able to find their own strength and pride.
Marci is currently taking nominations on her website, www.themarcifactor.com and Facebook page for those deserving to receive the bracelet. If you know of any veterans or families of veterans who you think should receive the bracelet, send a message to the KTRE facebook page at www.facebook.com/ktrenews.