Maj. Gen. Mark A. Graham, who lost two sons and became an advocate for mental health and suicide prevention, retired from the Army at Fort Bragg on Friday after 34 years of service.
His son, 2nd Lt. Jeff Graham, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in February 2004. Another son, Kevin, a senior Army ROTC cadet, committed suicide in June 2003 while studying to be an Army doctor at the University of Kentucky.
"Jeff and Kevin died fighting different battles," Graham said during his retirement ceremony. "They are here in spirit today."
Graham and his wife, Carol, have a daughter, Melanie, a neurology nurse at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston.
Graham spoke with humor and sometimes paused with emotion during the ceremony in a light drizzle at the front entrance to Marshall Hall, the headquarters for Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command.
Since September 2009, Graham was Forces Command's deputy chief of staff for plans, operations and training of the Army's largest command, which oversees most of the Army's conventional forces based in the continental United States.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey L. Bailey has replaced Graham.
During his remarks, Graham joked about being a nonairborne soldier on the Army's premier parachute post after the headquarters moved from Atlanta to Fort Bragg in 2011.
"I'm a leg," he said, referring to the term for a nonairborne soldier. "I was worried when I got here they wouldn't let me in the gate."
The two-star general recalled how his high school guidance counselor was puzzled that he might be thinking about the Army.
But he paused as he spoke of his sons and the soldiers who have been killed and wounded in military service.
"Many have wounds you cannot see," he said.
Graham and his wife established the Jeffrey C. and Kevin A. Graham Memorial Fund to provide the "Question, Persuade, Refer" suicide-prevention program at the University of Kentucky.
"You and Carol took this loss and transformed it into hope for so many others," said Gen. David M. Rodriguez, the Forscom commander.
Graham's replacement, Bailey, has been selected for promotion to major general. Bailey is the former commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division.
Forces Command is the Army's largest organization and has responsibility for manning, equipping and training 265,000 active-duty soldiers. The four-star command also oversees the training and readiness of 560,000 Army Reserve and Army National Guard soldiers.
Bailey was deputy commanding general for support of the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Carson, Colo.
At Fort Bragg, he also has been the 18th Airborne Corps assistant chief of staff for operations and commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division.
He received his commission as an Army officer through officer candidate school and has a bachelor's from the University of Central Arkansas and a master's degree from Central Michigan University.