Ricardo Acosta

RicardoAcosta

Ricky was a Florida / beach boy. He was a very talented musician and studied musical engineering after 5 years of service in the Army. Ricky was a happy, funny, “light up our life” son and brother. We watched as his demons of Iraq ate through his joy. He is forever missed and loved. Places he called home: Florida and Ft. Bragg, NC. His final resting place is Bay Pines National Cemetery

Randy Abrams

RandyAbrams

SFC Randy Abrams, a 3rd tour returning Combat Solider, died March 20, 2009. He was a returning Combat Soldier who did not receive the help he needed and tragically died because of it.Randy died by suicide during a PTSD flashback during the night in his bed at home. He put a .45 caliber handgun to his head and pulled the trigger.Hello, I am Roxann Abrams, Randy’s mother. Thank you for taking the time to read my son’s story. I write this biography celebrating his life and mourning his death.SFC Randy Abrams was a real person, with a real family and this really happened in 2009, and is STILL happening in 2012. The best way I can honor my son is to help his Brothers, and out of that Operation: I.V. is born to provide effective treatments and support for our Iraq and Afghanistan Combat Veterans.Randy is my oldest son, and still today is a very integral part of our family. As his mother, I can tell you the pain of losing a child is indescribable. And the senselessness of his death makes the pain worse. This is an emotional wound that for me will never heal. I will never “get over it” or “get past it”. The day my son died I lost a part of myself that I will never get back, literally a part of me died that day too. As time goes on, and only with the help of Jesus Christ, I am only learning how to cope.Randy’s senseless death has caused immeasurable pain to me, and many others also. His brother Daniel, his sister Lisa, his niece, nephews and sister-in-law, countless friends and the list goes on. Also included in this sea of pain, are Randy’s Battle Buddy’s – his soldier’s, the ones that worked for him and then there are his friends. They all suffer from survivors guilt from his suicide on top of their own serious PTSD!Randy was an amazing Son, Brother and Uncle. Perfect? No, not by any means – we teased him about being controlling – a necessary trait for being a good Military leader! And he was a good one – in addition, he was a very giving human being, that is why he chose the Military as his career – because he wanted to protect the freedoms we have in this country!From the time he was 8 years old all he ever wanted to do was be a Marine. The Marine Corp recruited him directly out of high school ROTC, Arlington High School in Riverside, Ca. He had a very successful 6 year career in the Marines. Deciding to pursue another career path he honorably discharged at the end of his enlistment. Two years later he then realized the Military was his passion. He joined the Army.Randy deployed to Iraq in early 2003, as was part of the 3rd ID out of Fort Stewart, Ga – these were the ground forces who were the first troops in at the onset of the Iraq war, March 20, 2003.During his first days in Iraq Randy was on one of the Baghdad entrance bridges engaged in a 30 hour firefight! Those bridges were named Curly, Moe, and Larry … Randy was stuck on that middle bridge, Moe. Can you imagine having people trying to kill you for over 30 hours?? This is the reality of the types of situations these soldiers at war are in, multiple times over …. in addition, they watch their buddies get blown up and die and additionally they have to kill other people!! These are the realities of war. This is what Post Traumatic Stress comes from – being in a life threatening situation or witnessing one – and it is magnified with each successive event. Most of the time Combat PTSD does not show itself until the solider has returned to a safer environment like coming home. That is what tragically ended the life of my son, SFC Randy Abrams.During Randy’s time of service in the Army he was a sniper and a weapons trainer. By the time he returned to the US in June of 2008, he had personally trained over half of the Iraq Army soldiers on their weapons! He was a sniper also – Randy was an Abrams (the name of a Military tank) that sat on the back of a Bradley (another military tank). He was a force to be reckoned with all by himself!Randy’s last months …. indications of PTSD?Summer 2008 – His return from his 3rd tourUpon his return in June he bought himself a Harley. His reward to himself for a job well done!! In August of 2008 he rode across the country from GA to CA to visit his family and friends. The photo of him with his bike you see on this page was taken when he arrived in Santa Barbara, Ca.He had made a decision to pursue his second love, motorcycles, after completing his Military career. He was excited about the decision he had made to become a Harley mechanic and eventually own his own Harley shop. He talked about it practically non stop during that visit!Randy then rode up to San Francisco to see friends and returned to Ft Stewart, GA after a month long road trip Sept 2008.Randy got the news he had been selected as a Drill Sgt Instructor upon his return from his trip to Ca. He was going to Drill Sgt school in February 2009. This is an honor that less than 10% of the military enjoys. It is an elite assignment. He never showed any outward signs to anyone (except one friend) until his very last day that he was having any difficulty at all. All appearances were that he was just fine.I later found out later, that Randy began to have occasional flashbacks, in October 2008. Those flashbacks came and went over the next several months. He told only one friend, in the strictest confidence, because in the Military at that time and still today it is considered weak and unmanly among the men of the military to get mental health help of any kind.The reality is that the social and professional climates of the military were then and still are, of that mind set that it is a bad thing to seek mental health help and they (the returning soldiers) should be able to handle it on their own! This must change!!Christmas/New Years 2008-2009Randy came home for Christmas 2008. We had a wonderful Christmas, thank God for lots of family time and really good memories. He took his brother Daniel to a USC game on New Years Day. It was the last time Daniel saw his brother. On January 2, 2009 I took my son to the airport – I hugged him, kissed him, and told him I loved him … his last words my son said to me in person were “I love you too Mom”. When I spoke to him later in the month of January, he seemed a little edgy but that wasn’t out of the ordinary and did not strike me as anything to worry about. He did tell me he was leaving February 18 to go to Drill Sgt School and he was not happy about it. He did tell me he would be out of school late April – early May and would probably take leave and come home sometime late May-June as one of his CA friends’ wives was giving birth about then and he wanted to see their baby.February 17, 2009 Randy’s last DayI called Randy that day late morning PST making it early afternoon EST. Got his voice mail, left him a message “Hi Randy, its Mom, call me back, I love you!” ……. he called me back several hours later – As soon as he said hello I knew something was very wrong! I said to him “Randy you don’t sound good, what’s wrong?” he replied “Nothing Mom” …. I said “That’s not true, what’s wrong??” again he said nothing …. then changed the subject. We had a 10 minute or so conversation ending in ” I love you Randy — I love you too Mom”. He was supposed to be off to Drill Sgt School the next day.(I know this is confusing and doesn’t add up yet, but keep reading, it will)I called him 2 weeks later .. the phone went straight to voice mail, or so I thought … not uncommon if he was out in the field on a training mission.March 14 – Randy’s BirthdayI called him and got a weird recording, not his voice mail. ..My other kids and I are calling each other that day – “Have you talked to Randy?” Everyone said no and we all got that same weird recording, assuming he was out in the field.March 19 – I got the call – I woke up to 3 messages on my cell phone voice mail .. 1 from Randy’s landlord, 1 from Randy’s unit and 1 from his friend. His Lieutenant asked me if I had seen Randy or talked to him in the last few days. I said “No”, then they told me he had never shown up for Drill Sgt School February 18 – WHAT?? Over a month ago and you are just now calling???? They said they had been to his house and he wasn’t there, I asked if his Harley and or his car were at his house – he said yes … I said “If his bike and his car are still in the driveway then somebody did something to him, or he did something to himself.” I told the officer what tattoo’s Randy had and where they were on his body. I knew then he was dead. My son wasn’t the kind of person to not show up to something, especially work and just not call, that just wasn’t Randy! I knew right then, in my heart, he was dead. Later that day I got a call from the Army telling me Officers were coming to my house to talk to me. Now there was no denying he was dead. He had always told me “No news is good news, if they ever call you and tell you they are coming to the house to talk to you, that means I’m dead.” At that moment I dropped to the floor and cried inconsolably. Sometime later, I don’t know how long of a time it was, I realized I had to tell my other two children their brother was dead. You see, not only did the Military, in Randy’s case the Army, drop the ball when it came to getting him the proper help upon his return from Combat, they dropped the ball across the board.My son was dead by suicide in his home for 33 days before the Army discovered his body! The only reason the Army went to Randy’s house that day is because his landlord called his commanding officer because he hadn’t paid his rent for March!!How can that happen? How can the Army not know where an ACTIVE DUTY Sergeant First Class slated for Drill Sgt School is for 33 days??????? It’s been 3 years and I’ve never gotten an acceptable answer from the Army. When he didn’t show up for Drill Sgt School apparently no one from the school notified his Commanding officer that he did not report for duty, or so they say. Upon getting that call from Randy’s landlord members of his unit went to his house. Seeing his car outside they let themselves in with the landlord and upon entry discovered his body and called police.When the police entered Randy’s house that day they discovered he had clothes in the washer and dryer, a duffel bag 3/4 packed to go to school in the living room, $ 75.00 in his wallet along with a bank withdraw and receipt for gas. He had dropped his clothes on the floor […]

Kimberly Agar

KimberlyAgar

Sergeant Kimberly D. Agar served her country as an American Soldier and was an exceptional individual to all who knew her. This tragedy has taken an outstanding young lady from her family and her friends. Words cannot and will not describe this tremendous loss and how much Kimberly’s death has and will continue to impact those still serving. Kimberly won her position as a vocalist with the US Army Europe Band and Chorus by virtue of her fine talent and commitment. Before joining, she was a valued member of the 3rd of the 159th Attack Reconnaissance Brigade, so much so that her commander came to wish her well at her final audition. Kim went to Birdville High School, where she received a letter jacket for community service. After graduating in 2004, Kim attended community college. But Kim had attention deficit disorder and dyslexia, and Margy said college didn’t work out for her. She worked as a waitress and a lifeguard. When her older brother, Stephen, joined the Air Force, Kim was inspired. In 2006, she surprised her family and friends and enlisted in the Army. She was stationed with the 104th Transportation Co. at Fort Benning in Georgia. In the summer of 2007, Kim was deployed to Iraq. She drove equipment across the country. Just a few months into combat, an improvised explosive device, or IED, hit Kim’s truck.Her mother Margy was told a large mushroom cloud of dust surrounded the truck. The blast broke the truck’s windshield. Insurgents fired at Kim and the driver, who did the only thing they could. They kept driving through the ambush. After the attack, Kim was diagnosed with a concussion, hearing loss and insomnia, according to Margy and Army records. “They were very lucky they didn’t die,” Margy said. “But I look back and think it was a slow death.” She was proud of joining the chorus and quickly became an effective musical ambassador in both Germany and other countries in Europe. Kimberly was such an asset not only to her unit, but the United States Army as a musical ambassador. She set an outstanding example learning music and choreography, leading the way for her fellow Soldiers. After she arrived in the chorus, it was only a short time before she actually became the assistant dance choreographer. Her dancing abilities were superb and she was able to help train the other members of the group in a very efficient manner. Recently, Kimberly was awarded with the coin of excellence from the Afghanistan Minister of Defense. Kimberly’s performance for the ambassador was superb and attributed to the Minister having said in his words “the best night of my life in thirty-years”. The impact that this loss will have is huge. Kimberly was loved and respected by all who knew her. Kimberly loved what she was doing. She always gave all she had and came to work fully prepared for the musical missions she was tasked with. Kimberly’s impact reached to the far parts of the globe and that she will never be forgotten by the members of her Army Family. Born in Dallas, TexasResting Place: Dallas Ft Worth National Cemetery A Dream Come True Ends in Suicide for Soldierby Chase Cook, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow | News21Published Aug. 24, 2013 The roadside bomb blasted the safety hatch and blew away the windshields on the heavy transport that Army Pfc. Kimberly Agar rode across Iraq during the 2007 surge. As she regained her composure, insurgents rained rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire on the convoy for about 15 minutes. Agar climbed into the back seat and returned fire as the convoy pushed through the ambush.Agar’s group didn’t suffer fatalities in that attack but she was diagnosed as having a concussion after she complained of headaches and insomnia, about a day after the bombing.About a year later, Agar finished her 15-month deployment and went home to Dallas for a two-week break before returning to Fort Benning, Ga. Her mother, Margy Agar, though, noticed her daughter was different, saying she was distant, withdrawn and not “my Kimi anymore.”In 2009, Kimberly Agar re-enlisted and was posted to Germany, a place she had always wanted to visit. There, the talented vocalist who swept pageants in her childhood and teen years eventually made the U.S. Army Europe Band and Chorus, singing with the elite, selective military musical troupe that performs at diplomatic and military events.It was a job that the younger Kimberly would have envied — getting paid to travel the world as an entertainer. Agar told everyone it was her dream gig. But there were lingering effects of her injuries, fragile emotions and even a suicide attempt.Early in October 2011, Agar killed herself in Germany after struggling with a minor traumatic brain injury.Agar was one of 301 military suicides in 2011, according to the Department of Defense. In 2012, the number of suicides climbed to 350, exceeding combat deaths that year.Unlike many combat veterans interviewed in this project, the singer-turned-soldier made the decision to stay in the military, continuing a career she loved.Memory loss, anxiety and insomnia followed Agar from Iraq to Dallas to Germany.Agar was born in Dallas, Nov. 25, 1985. She and her two brothers grew up in Texas.Margy Agar called Kimberly “her joy.” She always was energetic and passionate about entertaining people, her mother said. When she was younger, Kimberly’s plans were to move to California and pursue an entertainment career, Margy Agar said.Kimberly Agar traveled around Texas competing in pageants and singing her heart out. On her bedside wall, she posted photos of all the famous people she met. In 1996, she performed at the White House with a youth group.Jessica Edwards was her best friend in school. They had sleepovers, gushed over boys and listened to country singers, Edwards said. LeAnn Rimes was Agar’s favorite.Agar’s voice was one of her trademarks, Edwards said. During school performances, Agar confidently belted solos. She was not only talented, but also beautiful, Edwards said. Everyone knew her and she didn’t have any enemies.But Agar’s apparently happy childhood was marred by her parents’ separation when she was 13 and divorce when she was 16, Margy Agar said. It was around that time that Kimberly and her father argued during a phone conversation. Afterward Kimberly cut her wrist in front of her mother.Agar was one of 301 military suicides in 2011, according to the Department of Defense. In 2012, the number of suicides climbed to 350, exceeding combat deaths that year.Unlike many combat veterans interviewed in this project, the singer-turned-soldier made the decision to stay in the military, continuing a career she loved.Memory loss, anxiety and insomnia followed Agar from Iraq to Dallas to Germany.Agar was born in Dallas, Nov. 25, 1985. She and her two brothers grew up in Texas.Margy Agar called Kimberly “her joy.” She always was energetic and passionate about entertaining people, her mother said. When she was younger, Kimberly’s plans were to move to California and pursue an entertainment career, Margy Agar said.Kimberly Agar traveled around Texas competing in pageants and singing her heart out. On her bedside wall, she posted photos of all the famous people she met. In 1996, she performed at the White House with a youth group.Jessica Edwards was her best friend in school. They had sleepovers, gushed over boys and listened to country singers, Edwards said. LeAnn Rimes was Agar’s favorite.Agar’s voice was one of her trademarks, Edwards said. During school performances, Agar confidently belted solos. She was not only talented, but also beautiful, Edwards said. Everyone knew her and she didn’t have any enemies.But Agar’s apparently happy childhood was marred by her parents’ separation when she was 13 and divorce when she was 16, Margy Agar said. It was around that time that Kimberly and her father argued during a phone conversation. Afterward Kimberly cut her wrist in front of her mother.That was her first suicide attempt, but it was more a “cry for help” than anything else, Margy Agar said. Kimberly took her father’s leaving very hard.After high school, Kimberly attended Tarrant County College, but her dyslexia made school life difficult. She quit to work on singing, but when her older brother joined the Air Force in July 2006, she was inspired to serve. Agar joined the Army in October of that year, and by July 2007 was deployed to Iraq.Agar drove heavy equipment, massive semis that primarily moved tanks across the country, said Sgt. Mitchell Amos, her platoon sergeant.It’s a job with little sleep, traveling from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. over some of the most dangerous roads in Iraq during her 15-month deployment, Amos said.“Mentally, it was destructive,” he said.Agar didn’t open up about her injuries and depression until she got back to Georgia with her company. Amos told her to seek help, then join a military chorus so she could resume singing.Things did get better for Agar after she re-enlisted and went to Germany, those interviewed said.There, she refueled helicopters and met her new best friend, Sarah Hough. Agar did everything she could for the people she came across and she loved to try new things, Hough said. They spent evenings and weekends shopping, drinking and doing “normal stuff.”Agar didn’t speak often of the injuries she suffered in Iraq, or anything else bothering her. If she did talk about it, it was vague, Hough said.In February 2011, Agar applied for the elite U.S. Army Europe Band and Chorus. After the 30-day process she was selected as a vocalist. It marked her return to traveling, singing and dancing.“When she made the chorus she was on cloud nine,” her mother said. “She thanked God for living her dream getting paid to do what she loved.”Agar’s performances earned her the Coin of Excellence from the Afghanistan Minister of Defense. She also was selected as the chorus assistant dance choreographer, according to her obituary written by the chorus Chain of Command.But the job wasn’t perfect.Michael Webb, a retired Army sergeant and former band and chorus member, said the troupe was akin to “a fraternity.” Chorus members would bully one another, he said, about their performances and sometimes there was professional jealousy.“They really let you have it. From what I can see from my perspective, maybe they were a little too hard,” Webb said.Fearing the critiques would get her kicked out of the chorus, Agar became unreasonably critical of herself, paranoid that she would lose her job in the chorus, according to sworn statements in Army records.Besides close friends, nobody at the time knew Agar was struggling with injuries from her deployment, Webb said.On Sept. 6, 2011, after a harsh critique from a chorus member, Agar sent her mother a Facebook message.“It said, ‘Mom, just remember I will always love you,’” Margy Agar said.After several phone calls, Margy Agar was told her daughter had overdosed and was found with her wrists cut while sad music played in the background.Kimberly Agar was taken to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, where she stayed for 11 days. Her doctor wrote “patient is likely unfit for service.”Agar returned to her barracks, but requested a move to a higher floor. This floor only had one other person living on it and she was isolated from her friends. She was back to work two weeks after her suicide attempt, Margy Agar said.Webb saw her once after the attempt.“I remember coming to formation in the morning. I walked by her and she looked kind of down and out of it,” Webb said. “Why couldn’t they tell us, her friends, that she [attempted suicide] so we could help her. Once I knew everything, I felt bad.”On Sept. 30, 2011, an argument among chorus members prompted a meeting, scheduled for the following Monday. Over the weekend, Agar and some friends went shopping; it was the last time she was seen alive, Margy Agar said.Kimberly’s death so devastated Margy Agar that she now suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress. She won’t say how her daughter died.“Sometimes I […]