Marine's family raising awareness of veteran suicide, donates back through foundation


Gordy Justice Sr., Jamie, Marc and Gabrielle Kuney, Mark Finnegan, founder of Vets Roll, Walter Graham Rockton American Legion Post #332 Ladies Auxiliary President Vicki Lynn and Rockton American Legion Post #332 Commander Jim Griffin came together to honor the memory of former Marine Ryan Masters. Masters' family and the Legion combined efforts to donate $7,300 to Vets Roll on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Ryan D. Masters spent a large part of his life in Rockton, attending Rockton Grade School, Whitman Post Elementary, Stephen Mack and Hononegah Community High School. After high school, he went to Southwest Minnesota State University for one semester before transferring to UW Platteville for a year.

Masters is remembered for his love of sports, especially basketball, baseball and track. He had a special place in his heart for the Michigan Wolverines.

Masters loved his family, his mom Jamie, his stepdad Marc who helped raise him, his sister Gabrielle Kuney and his future brother-in-law Peter Meitzler.

After signing up to serve in the military in 2014, Masters earned his rank as a Corporal in the United States Marine Corp.

Cpl. Masters finished deployments in Okinawa in 2015, 2016 and 2017:  a total of two six month deployments.

Masters worked on the Delta Amphibious Assault Vehicle as a crew chief.

After he returned to civilian life, Masters struggled to readjust. He passed away on March 9, 2021 at the age of 28 after committing suicide.

Master's mother Jamie Kuney reflects, "Ryan was a very kind-hearted person who loved his family, friends and his country. He would have done anything to protect them."

In his loving memory, with a mission to raise awareness of veteran suicide, and to better assist Marines transitioning back to civilian life, family and friends have banded together to create the RDM Foundation in Masters' name.

This summer, they organized their first-ever golf outing, raising over $20,000 in profits, all to be donated back to worthy organizations.

"The Walter Graham Rockton American Legion Post #332 was always very welcoming to Ryan and our family, He felt very comfortable among the veterans there," Kuney said.

On Wednesday evening, Sept. 21, the RDM Foundation and Ryan Masters' family gathered at the Rockton American Legion for a special presentation.

Emotions stirred prior to a donation being given to Vets Roll organizer Mark Finnegan. Legion Commander Jim Griffin said, "We always hate to lose a brother and our hearts go out to his family."

Officers in the Rockton American Legion joined the Kuney family  in donating a check to Vets Roll for $7,300, a combined effort of the RDM Foundation, the Walter Graham Rockton American Legion Post #332, and Rockton American Legion Post #332 Ladies Auxiliary, presented by Auxiliary President Vicki Lynn.

Mark Finnegan, Vets Roll founder, graciously thanked the RDM Foundation and the Legion for their generous donations. "Due to this generous combined donation, we can now cover the cost of taking eight veterans of the ninety we are honoring on this trip. The ages of those heading out with Vets Roll range from 82 to 100, with an average age veteran of around 86," Finnegan said.

Since its inception, the RDM Foundation has donated money to Mission 22 and to the Rockton American Legion from Ryan's memorial in 2021 while adhering to their goals of raising awareness of veterans suicide.

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