After soldier's death by suicide, family's goal is awareness about mental health
May 15—Wes Tyeryar lost his son Maxwell to suicide in January 2022.
Maxwell Tyeryar, 25, of Frederick, joined the Army National Guard in 2016 while attending East Carolina University.
Maxwell, a 2015 graduate of Urbana High School, was deployed to Kuwait for nine months during Operation Enduring Freedom. He achieved the rank of sergeant, received several service medals, and completed his six-year commitment in August 2021.
"He always wanted to be part of something that was bigger than himself," his father said.
Maxwell's family founded a nonprofit organization, Max Well For Life, to raise awareness about mental health and suicide.
The organization is working to offer scholarships to students who are either active military or veterans, so they can attend East Carolina University. They'll learn about Maxwell, too.
A golf tournament held on Monday at Holly Hills Country Club near Ijamsville is part of the organization's progress toward that goal.
Wes Tyeryar said about 130 people registered for the tournament.
Money raised through the tournament will be added to previous fundraising efforts.
One was a golf tournament that Maxwell's fraternity at East Carolina, Sigma Pi, held in his memory.
Jackson Grove, another Urbana High grad and friend of Maxwell's, raised money through his clothing company, Nuthin Fancy Collection, Wes Tyeryar said.
Wes Tyeryar said Max Well For Life, which registered as a nonprofit in July 2022, is getting close to meeting the criteria for offering an annual scholarship.
The organization is also considering other ways to educate the public about mental health and suicide, perhaps through a speaker series and certified trainers.
The group will work with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on its Out of the Darkness walks, including one in Frederick on Oct. 14.
Another local organization, Pulling For Veterans, is also trying to get the word about Maxwell and the struggles of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Nicholas Walker, the founder of Pulling For Veterans, said the organization rents 13 moving trailers, by the hour, to people in the Frederick County area. The sides of the trailers have information about the symptoms of PTSD for veterans and the effects the disorder has on their families.
"These are rolling billboards," he said.
Walker, who served in the U.S. Air Force, attended Monday's golf tournament to unveil a trailer that now bears a photo of Maxwell in uniform.
Walker said he's working on an idea to have a nationwide retail chain, and possibly the military, use their trailers to feature images of soldiers who lost their battles with PTSD.
Maxwell Tyeryar completed the academic work for his criminal justice degree and was concluding an internship requirement when he died, his father said.
"He had done a lot in his young life," Wes Tyeryar said.
"He lived hard. He played hard," his brother, Riley, 28, said Monday. "He loved the hell out of everybody. ... When he'd walk into a room, you'd know he was there."
Riley said his brother liked the idea of joining the military because "it wasn't the easy option" after high school and he thrived in that environment. It matched his tough, gritty personality, Riley said.
But Maxwell wasn't as sure about what came next, after he graduated. "He felt like he needed a clear path," Riley said.
"He always masked the true struggle that he was in," the Max Well For Life website says. "His positive attitude and sense of humor hid the real pain that was under his smile."