Afghanistan Veteran Michelle Young Tragically Commits Suicide

By Ethan Cole on
 January 23, 2024

Tragedy has struck the heart of our community with the loss of a U.S. Army soldier and well-known fitness influencer.

Michelle Young, an Afghanistan veteran and single mother, tragically took her own life last week, leaving behind a legacy of service and a plea for mental health awareness.

Young, aged 34, was a dedicated soldier and a doting mother to her 12-year-old daughter, Gracie. Her demise came shockingly close to her daughter's birthday, which they celebrated with heartfelt social media posts.

Michelle's Early Life and Military Career

Born in Missouri and later residing in Arizona, Michelle Young had a life marked by both accomplishment and personal tragedy. Her military career was distinguished; she was deployed twice to Afghanistan and had recently decided to extend her military contract to serve a total of 20 years.

Michelle reached the rank of Staff Sergeant in 2019, a milestone she proudly shared on social media, emphasizing her daughter Gracie's role in motivating her success. Her dedication to her daughter and her career was evident in everything she did.

However, Michelle's life was not without its struggles. The loss of her brother to suicide at the young age of 14 was a pivotal moment that deeply affected her. In a touching Instagram post, she recounted this loss as shaping her passion for helping others.

A Voice for Mental Health Awareness

Michelle's commitment to service extended beyond her military duties. She was actively involved in volunteer work, including at Prescott Area Shelter Services, where she worked with women, children, and families in crisis. Her efforts were not limited to human causes; she also participated in a mission with Pilots to the Rescue to save shelter dogs at risk of euthanasia.

Her dedication to mental health awareness was a constant theme. In an Instagram post for Suicide Prevention Month, Michelle urged those struggling with suicidal thoughts to seek help, a message that now resonates with tragic irony following her passing.

Michelle's outreach and influence were widespread, as evidenced by her sizable Instagram following of over 100,000. Her posts often blended insights into her personal life with messages of encouragement and resilience.

Remembering Michelle Young

Michelle Young's death has left a void in the lives of many, including those she briefly encountered. Michaela Otero, who met Michelle at a photoshoot, recalled her as one of the kindest and brightest people, a sentiment echoed by many who knew her.

Michelle's friends and loved ones are now channeling their grief into action. Sarah Maine, COO of activewear label Curves N Combatboots, where Michelle frequently modeled, has established a GoFundMe in her honor. The funds raised will support Gracie's future needs.

In a moving tribute, Maine wrote:

From the outside looking in, it looked like she had it all. Mental illness is so prevalent, especially in the military. We need to find a way to do better.

A Legacy of Love and Service

Those who knew Michelle describe her as a beacon of love and respect. Carmen Frederic, a fellow volunteer, shared memories of Michelle's kindness and non-judgmental nature. Maggie Hundshamer, another friend, remembered her as a phenomenal friend, mentor, and mother.

Michelle's influence extended beyond her immediate circle. One touching anecdote from a mission with Pilots to the Rescue highlights her courage and compassion. Brooke L., who accompanied Michelle on this mission, recounted feeling safe and comforted by her presence, describing Michelle as fierce and funny.

Michelle's relative, Lisa Rodriguez, reflected on her passing with a poignant message on Facebook, urging people to check on their loved ones, highlighting the often unseen struggles many endure.

Young's Struggles and Inspirational Posts

Amidst her numerous achievements and public persona, Michelle Young openly shared her struggles with mental health and body image. Her Instagram posts often delved into the realities of emotional challenges, offering a glimpse into her battles.

In a 2018 post, she wrote, "Life ain’t all sunshine and rainbows but I promise if you allow yourself to feel the pain during the sad times, the happy times are appreciated that much more." These words now serve as a haunting reminder of the complexity of mental health issues.

Michelle's tragic death underscores the importance of mental health support, particularly for veterans and those in active service. Her life, marked by service, love, and vulnerability, serves as a call to action for better mental health resources and understanding.


  • Staff Sergeant Michelle Young, a U.S. Army soldier and fitness influencer, died by suicide, leaving behind a daughter and a legacy of service.
  • Michelle's tragedy with her brother's suicide at 14 shaped her life and passion for helping others.
  • She was actively involved in volunteer work and advocated for mental health awareness.
  • Friends and loved ones have established a GoFundMe to support her daughter, Gracie, raising awareness of mental health, especially in the military.
  • Michelle's life and death highlight the need for better support and understanding of mental health issues among veterans and active service members.

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