Cottage Grove community mourning loss of fallen firefighter

Friends and family of Cottage Grove Fire Department firefighter Nathan Walker are mourning the loss of the husband, father, firefighter and Marine Corp veteran.
Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 5:50 PM CDT
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COTTAGE GROVE, Wis. (WMTV) - Friends and family of Cottage Grove Fire Department firefighter Nathan Walker are mourning the loss of the husband, father, firefighter and Marine Corp veteran.

Walker passed away on Sunday, September 25, according to the Cottage Grove Fire Department. Walker was a police officer with the Sun Prairie Police Department for many years before becoming a member of the Cottage Grove Fire Department, where, Honor Guard Commander Brent Jones recalls, he was very loved.

“The community as a whole is holding up but there’s a lot of shock and disbelief and a lot of broken hearts over the loss of Nate,” Jones said.

The department attributed his death to his longstanding battle with PTSD. His family said although Walker lost his battle, his wish was always for others to overcome their struggles.

“The biggest message that I would have, and that Katie and her family and Nate’s family would like to get across is that PTSD is a very real thing, and mental health should be at the forefront for anybody,” Jones said.

Jones said prioritizing mental health is especially important for military, firefighters, police officers, and anyone else who might suffer from PTSD.

“You will see and do things that the normal people don’t get to experience,” Jones said. “And over time that can build up. And if you don’t sit down and talk to somebody and you don’t stop putting things on a shelf and saying I’ll deal with this later I’ll deal with this later, that shelf is going to break and it’s all going to come crashing in.”

The Cottage Grove Fire Department has set up a memorial fund to assist Walker’s family. Checks made out to “Nate Walker Memorial Fund” can be dropped off or mailed to any Bank of Sun Prairie location. Donations can also be made here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/nate-walker-memorial-fund.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from PTSD, suicidal thoughts, or any other mental health issues, call or text 988 for help.