MEET OUR MARSHALS: Operation Iraqi Freedom Grand Marshal Abby Malchow

Whether it’s equality, suicide prevention, community engagement or bravery, when it comes to veterans, Abby Malchow is there. She is a proud Iraq war veteran who deployed to Fallujah and Ramadi in 2006 with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40, where she led an all-male crew that included three Iraqis. Post-deployment, the Navy Logistics Specialist joined Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to connect with others who were also there. Like her, many of the veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress.

Malchow was selected to be one of 22 veterans who stormed Capitol Hill in 2014 to garner Congressional support of the “Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act,” demanding more effective care for those in crisis. Why 22? At that time, it was estimated 22 veterans take their lives each day. Today the new statistics cite it as 20 a day. Abby knows this all too well: A shipmate succumbed to suicide shortly after they returned from Iraq, and her best friend succumbed two months later. “I knew something was up when he closed his social media accounts and got rid of a beloved sports car,” she recalls. She immediately tried to reach him by phone, through friends, the police, and crisis lines. A couple of nights later, she received the dreaded call. “If you think someone is contemplating suicide,” Malchow says, “have the bravery to ask!” The Clay Hunt Act was signed into law in 2015.

Malchow advocated on Capitol Hill again in 2017 for the “Deborah Sampson Act” (Sampson was a veteran of the Revolutionary War in 1782!) and equal treatment for female veterans at the VA.

Malchow earned her MBA at University of Maryland, and was recently selected for the inaugural class of the George W. Bush Stand-To Veteran Leadership Initiative. Her personal leadership project for the initiative is focused on providing targeted intervention through artificial intelligence on social media platforms to proactively identify and prevent veteran suicides in a collaboration with the VA’s Crisis Line. She wants to make it easier to get help. “Congress is working on a 3-digit phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” she says. “But simply saying, ‘Siri, call Veterans Crisis Line’ is another option.”

Malchow was nominated by her Intel co-worker and fellow veteran Kelly Zancola. They’re on the board of the “American Veterans at Intel” employee resource group, which Abby helped create in her first three months at the company. The group serves over 1,000 veterans at Intel in Arizona alone, and also helps veterans in the local community through volunteering.

When it comes to Veterans Day, Malchow has a fierce respect for draftees, who reported for duty when their nation called, but also those who volunteered in the past and present. “They willingly go into harm’s way and should be honored for putting their country before themselves,” she says. “Their courage is a powerful inspiration.”

We hope you will join us at the 22nd Annual Phoenix Veterans Day Parade on Monday, November 12, 2017, to see all our Grand Marshals. This year’s parade theme is “OUT OF THE TRENCHES: A Century of Remembrance – WWI 1918.” The parade typically boasts more than 100 entries, and this year will have a special float with nearly 20 Vietnam Veterans riding on it. The parade will also feature patriotic floats, high school marching bands, JROTC marching units, color guards, Veterans Service Organizations, animals, novelty units and much, much more.

For more information on the parade and the parade route, click HERE.