• Published
  • By Maj. Shelley Ecklebe
  • 442d Fighter Wing

Tragedy rarely strikes on schedule. Sooner or later, every person will be faced with sadness and difficulty that will change their life forever. The question remains: how to respond. For Tech. Sgt. Victoria Abel, Crew Chief in the 442d Maintenance Group, and Mrs. Emily Anderson, spouse of U.S. Army Maj. Kyle Anderson, Love Over Circumstance, a 501-C non-profit organization, was created. 

When Abel went into premature labor with twins Collin and Lucas at 19 weeks 6 days gestation, her husband, Master Sgt. Jeffrey Abel, had just reported to Osan AB, Korea for a remote assignment.  

With the help of squadron leadership, she submitted an American Red Cross notification through the Hero Care Center. In times of emergency, the Red Cross helps military families communicate and, if eligible, facilitate a trip home. 

The Red Cross guidelines mandate a 20-week gestational age or live birth requirement. Jeffrey only qualified for Red Cross services because the twins were born breathing: Collin lived for just under four hours, and Lucas for just over two.

While grieving, Victoria felt fortunate her husband met the rules for Red Cross support but identified a crucial need for those in her situation who fall outside the rules of the organization. Emily Anderson, friend and military spouse, empathized with her story, having lost her own daughter, Olivia, in 2014 at just 24 weeks gestation.

“Emily was there for me from the moment I went into the hospital” said Abel, “She prayed with me, brought me comfort items, and was my emotional support system until Jeff landed back in the states.”

Love Over Circumstance, named after their children Lucas, Olivia, and Collin, aims to provide support both emotionally and monetarily, to ensure military families have the right resources to help them through trying times. “We wanted to create an organization that filled in the gaps left by larger non-profit organizations” said Victoria, “We know they are bound to rules, but also realized, we could help more military families by expanding the rule sets to meet unforeseen circumstances. If I had my boys a week sooner, the Red Cross would not have been able to help me and that is what led to this idea.”

“I am not a victim of my life

What I went through

Pulled a warrior out of me

And it’s my greatest honor to be here"

Rupi Kaur

Still in its initial stages, Love Over Circumstance, is reaching out to local community leaders while planning fundraising runs and golf tournaments to help those facing similar tragedies in the near future.

Brig. Gen. Steve Nester poses with Tech. Sgt. Tori Abel in front of an A-10C Thunderbolt II at Whiteman AFB, Mo. Tech. Sgt. Abel is Brig. Gen. Nester's dedicated crew chief.