Saved by Brotherhood

West Chester Sigma Pi Alumni Share Their Mental Health Story
Alex Beaven (Pennington & Company), contributing writer

The importance of mental health cannot be understated, and Sigma Pi is working to increase fraternal awareness through the Bonds of Brotherhood program. Following a battle with depression, Craig Maschmeyer (West Chester ’94) reflected on his mental health and how Jim Richardson (West Chester ’92) helped him through his time of need.

A Fraternal Foundation

When Craig first arrived at West Chester, he was introduced to Sigma Pi by student adviser Andy Mahony (West Chester ’91) during a summer program. Craig was highly impressed by the men at the Sigma Pi house compared to an unremarkable visit with another fraternity, and he knew Sigma Pi was the brotherhood for him.

Jim had a similar experience when joining Sigma Pi and meeting the genuine young men in the house. By the time Craig arrived, he and other young members saw Jim as a protector who was always there to look out for his brothers.

“There was a huge amount of trust built with him because of that,” Craig said. “I knew for years that he’d bend over backward to help anyone out.”

Craig’s father instilled a no-quit mentality in him from a young age, and the Sigma Pi experience further developed that work ethic as Craig prepared for life after college. Beyond professional development, the brotherhood helped Craig overcome personal hardships as members supported him through his grandfather’s passing during freshman year.

Craig’s Struggles

After college, Craig went into the military but faced relationship issues with his then-fiancée. Going directly from basic training to jump school, three major concussions in four days added to Craig’s history of prior head trauma.

“I got to Fort Bragg and found out I had some serious head trauma going on, along with multiple bulging discs in my neck and spine issues,” Craig added. “It consumed me because I wasn’t able to do the job I signed up for—I started really beating myself up on that.”

Craig was given an honorable medical discharge in 2005, leading to physical therapy and an eventual job as an Allentown police officer. His father’s untimely passing in December 2005 added to Craig’s mental struggles at the time and left him feeling isolated in grief despite his marriage earlier that year.

Shortly after, Craig learned of his then-wife’s affair and began facing drinking issues amidst suicidal thoughts. After seeing her social media posts, Craig pulled himself together to uplift his self-worth and file for a divorce while seeking therapy.

“Something clicked, and I started to feel again that I’m worth saving,” Craig said, working on himself and meeting his current wife in 2009. Six years later, a work-related injury cost Craig his Allentown police job without the chance for disability pension.

“I once again hit rock bottom,” Craig said, facing the same issues with depression and drinking. “I was in a state, fighting because I wanted to live but didn’t. … It was a self-created struggle I didn’t recognize.”

Uplifting a Brother

Craig started working again in 2018, following more physical therapy and meetings with psychologists. He found purpose in his new position at a different police department but was disappointed in himself for not being around enough for his children’s life events due to a long commute.

“I had that feeling until almost two years ago when guys reached out for an alumni function,” Craig said. He was surprised to receive an invite and was encouraged by his wife to attend. There, Craig reconnected with Jim and began talking a bit about depression issues.

“A few days later, I remembered an ad about veteran suicide and knew Jim was a veteran, so I reached out and we had a long conversation. Somehow, Jim knew what to say and when to say it; he told me not to be afraid or ashamed to seek help.”

Jim prides himself on always being available for others in need, and Craig’s mental health was no exception. Years of military experience exposed Jim to men in need of help with nowhere to turn, and he is glad that Craig has been willing to speak up about his personal troubles.

“This is a long process for everyone,” Jim added. “Craig, like everyone experiencing this, deserves a good life. I am extremely proud that I was able to meet Craig through Sigma Pi and honored that he was willing to call for the help he needed.”

Brotherly Support

Craig feels stronger physically and mentally today, returning to a family-oriented lifestyle and always being there for friends, just like Jim was there for him. Staying proactive, Craig continues to receive mental health care. He also rarely drinks now, and Craig is closer than ever with his wife and children.

The first step for Craig was realizing there is no shame in talking about his problems. Just as Sigma Pi brothers were there for him in college, he makes himself open for any fellow alumni to reach out in their own time of need.

“I’m there for them no matter what. Point blank, period. I used to be one of those idiots who would make fun of someone struggling before I became that person. I know now that there’s no shame in seeking the help you need. Like my father said when I was a kid: ‘You don’t talk at people, you talk with them.’” 

Craig and Jim are both glad to see Sigma Pi promoting mental health awareness through the Bonds of Brotherhood initiative. The Fraternity’s smaller size at West Chester has naturally promoted a tight-knit support system, though a Fraternity-wide emphasis on mental health resources helps to reduce the stigma around brothers seeking help.

You can connect with Craig at and Jim at To learn more about the Bonds of Brotherhood program, visit