Thank You Sgt Bagosy. Your Sacrifice Will Not Go Unnoticed

Thank You Sgt Bagosy. Your Sacrifice Will Not Go Unnoticed

May 20, 2010 – Thank you Sgt. Bagosy!  Your sacrifice will not go unnoticed.  I never had the privilege of meeting you, but it would have been a true honor.  From what I’ve heard you were an outstanding Marine who served with pride and honor.  I’ve been told that you were a loving husband and a devoted father to two beautiful children.  As well, you were a much loved son, brother, grandson, cousin, and friend.

Your deployments and all the training done to prepare for them proved you to be a man willing to sacrifice and serve to ensure that the rest of us could live in a free nation.  At the age of 25 you had already accumulated two Combat Action Ribbons, a Navy Unit Commendation, a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, and a NATO Medal – ISAF Afghanistan.  Most of us never make that kind of impact on the world in an entire lifetime, let alone 25 years.

I didn’t know you personally, Sgt Bagosy, but your path in life parallels that of a special Marine in my life.  You see, Sgt Bagosy, you joined the Marine Corps just two days after my own Marine enlisted. This tells me you were at Parris Island for the same 13 weeks that my hero gave his blood, sweat, and tears to become a US Marine.  Those 13 weeks were rough for me, learning to deal with the separation and beginning to understand that life would never be the same for our family.  I can guarantee that I was lifting you up in prayer right along with my own Marine.  Everyone on the island, during those long weeks, was on my heart.

Knowing that you were attached to MarSOC tells me a great deal about you, Sgt Bagosy, for my Marine was attached to MarSOC, as well.  A Marine Special Operator goes through rigorous training just to make it to the pipeline.  Once accepted into the pipeline, you are expected to give even more of yourself.  As a “Silent Warrior” you were a man of intelligence and maturity.  You had a high degree of physical agility, an ability to exercise good judgment, were able to handle a demanding pace, as well as the high expectations that come with the job of Special Operator.  You sought excellence in everything you did. You did it all with confidence, yet you were humble.

As well, Sgt. Bagosy, you were a patient seeking help for your Invisible Wounds of War brought on by your acts of heroism and service over the six years you served in the United States Marine Corps.  I don’t know the specifics of your struggles, but I know the specifics of my own Marine’s struggles and I imagine the parallels would be striking if we could sit down and share our stories.

For the past 18 months, I’ve mourned the loss of my Marine.  His physical body still draws breath, but the young man that left for Parris Island  back in June of 2004 is likely never coming home to us.  I’ve seen him close to death more than once in the past year.  As if the PTSD and the effects of TBI weren’t enough, the cocktail of drugshe was given by his doctors would have literally taken his life if a caring individual had not become alarmed and found a doctor close by who realized he was in a dangerous state. Still, nine months later, we cry out for someone to give him real help. Not a day goes by that I don’t fear my Marine will feel he has no choice but the one you have made.  More than once I have expected the Marines to knock on the door with the news that PTSD had taken another hero from our midst.

I don’t know how long you suffered Sgt. Bagosy, but I know it must have been harder to bear than any training exercise or any deployment. I know you fought for a long time before you made your choice.  I know that you would never have taken your life if you had been given the care you needed. I understand how you came to the place where you had to make your fateful decision and I am so sorry that this deplorable system failed you.

I guess it wouldn’t surprise you to know that, just days before your death, I drove through the night to Camp Lejeune from my home 12 hours away to make sure that my Marine didn’t reach the point where he would make the same choice.  You see, he doesn’t have an advocate close at hand. He’s been trapped in a system of discipline and a world of stigma.  He can’t get the help he needs because the system doesn’t have an effective plan for treating PTSD.

The existing plan is nothing more than a parallel to the story by Hans Brinker about the little Dutch boy who noticed a leak in the dike.  He is standing there with his finger in the hole, but the help hasn’t come yet.  You have taken your turn at the sea wall, Sgt. Bagosy, and now others are doing the same in your place.  I only hope, Sgt. Bagosy, that the help is quickly coming because the pressure is building and the sea wall is going to give!

On the day that you turned the dike over to others fighting this battle, I was driving home, with my Marine, hopeful that a better environment, surrounded by people who cared, would be the changing force in my Marine’s recovery.  Had I heard the news without my Marine in my presence, I would have likely panicked at the thought that the inevitable had finally come to my front door.

As I sadly told my Marine of your news, Sgt Bagosy, he looked me in the eye and he said, “I know exactly why it happened like that.  He was in MarSOC.  He thinks outside the box.  That’s the way it is in MarSOC.  He wanted help. He didn’t get any.  He knew if he did it in a private place that no one would ever know what happened.  He knew it would be covered up.  He took one for the team so someone would know we are here on the base suffering.”

Sgt. Bagosy, I think you would be happy to know that my Marine is already making progress just because he is now safely at home and surrounded by those who love him.  I’m so sorry that the system failed you and your dear family.  I’m sorry I never had a chance to meet you.  If I had the chance, I’d thank you for your service to our country.  I’d tell you that I promise to pray for your dear family as they move forward.  I’d tell you that your memory will not bear the stain of stigma.  Your last act will forever change the lives of thousands who are suffering in silence.  Others will get help because you took a stand against the system currently in place.  PTSD is a life altering battle wound.  It is found in our nation’s true heroes.  For those that have it, the wound should be viewed as a medal signifying bravery, not an ugly scar that is covered in shame.

For all who are just a second away from the same fate, Sgt Bagosy, I will challenge them to honor your life and your sacrifice by speaking up and seeking help.  There are some of us that are listening and we are working to establish better care.  Sgt. Bagosy, I know your family will defend your honor and your wife will share your life and your heart with your children.  They will know of your bravery and the difference you made in your short life.

The warriors of MarSOC operate at the tip of the spear.  Sgt. Bagosy, you have carried on that legacy at the forefront of the battle against the Invisible Wounds of War. I thank you for making a difference.  Your efforts were not in vain.

Author’s Note: Sgt. Thomas Bagosy died Monday, May 10, 2010, aboard Camp Lejeune where he was stationed and served his country proudly as a United States Marine.

Since I first wrote this piece, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Katie Bagosy, Tommy’s wife, and Bob Bagosy, Tommy’s father. I have also had the privilege of meeting members of Tommy and Katie’s family when I attended the burial atArlington National Cemetery on July 6, 2010.  If military leaders could see, firsthand, the effect suicide has on those who are left behind, they might reconsider the importance of solving this crisis before more people have to figure out how to survive.

Originally published by the author on fellednot.com.

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  1. [...] in faith, and HOPE. Just ask Katie Bagosy. Her world was turned upside down when her husband, Sgt. Thomas Bagosy, took his life a few weeks ago. She is still reeling from the pain. She’s still caught in the [...]

  2. [...] Day” with her two young children who no longer have a daddy to hug in their arms. Her husband, Sgt. Tom Bagosy, a United States Marine, took his own life on Monday, May 10, 2010, and joined the statistical [...]

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