Returning home from war has never been an easy feat for our nations veterans. Since the first war for our country’s independence, young men and women have come back different then how they left. Nowadays, with Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, almost everyone knows someone that has been touched by the wars of our time. For me, I see the effects of what war can do to a person firsthand as the wife of a U.S. Army combat veteran.
My husband Kevin served in the U.S. Army at Fort Drum, NY’s 10 Mountain Division from 2001-2006, including two tours – one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Both deployments changed him. The transition to civilian life was not easy for my husband or his comrades, with some having a more difficult time than others, but all facing challenges of their own.
My husband served alongside many honorable men and women during his time in the Army. One soldier in particular was recently brought to my attention when my husband found a podcast shared by a fellow soldier on Facebook. In the podcast, my husband learned of the passing of one of his fellow soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division in 2013. Specialist Michael Wargo served as a nuclear biological and chemical specialist in the U.S. Army. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2003, alongside my husband Kevin.
Michael and Kevin would both return home from Afghanistan, but both would face the difficulties returning to normal life after combat that every soldier coming home must endure.
According to the Morning Call newspaper, “After returning, his [Michael] life slowly deteriorated, according to his parents. He bounced from job to job, moving from teaching to computer science, in a position where he could work alone from home. His parents said he walked away from his marriage, though he remained deeply involved in his young daughter’s life. And he stayed on good terms with his former wife, his college sweetheart, helping with plumbing problems and cutting her lawn” (Muschick, 2019).
Also according to the Morning Call, Michael suffered from survivor’s guilt and PTSD. He suffered silently, as many soldiers do in life after service, and on May 20th, 2013 he ended up taking his own life as a result.
Posthumously, Michael’s death was declared as service-connected by the VA as a result of his PTSD.
Because of the death of their son, Michael’s parents, Mike and Sarah Wargo of Pennsylvania, have fought hard to prevent one more solider from losing their life after returning home. “They work with various veterans causes, including Valor Clinic, a foundation that offers assistance to veterans, including support for those suffering from post traumatic stress injuries. They participate in food and clothing drives and are involved in plans to build a “memorial mile” in Kidder Township to honor veterans who die by suicide” (Muschick, 2019).
Mr. and Mrs. Wargo also spearhead the Michael C. Wargo Cup Golf Tournament which raises money for the Valor Clinic and the Memorial Mile.
Statistics state that roughly 22 veterans die via suicide or other self inflicted injuries every day in the United States. This is an extremely alarming number! The Veterans Administration needs to do more for returning veterans by offering more than just a salute and “welcome home”. That is where nonprofits like the Valor clinic come into play, along with caring volunteers like the Wargos.
We need more organizations such as this to help reduce the number of suicide related deaths amongst our veterans each day.
We also must remember the fallen, as the Wargos do each day with their son Michael, and also in the work they do for the Valor Clinic and Memorial Mile. Please consider donating, you could be helping to change the life of one of our nation’s veterans or helping a family to remember the sacrifice their loved one has made for our freedoms.
To make a donation to the Valor Clinic visit their website at http://www.valorclinic.org or on Facebook.
To make a donation to the War at Home Memorial “Memorial Mile” email firstname.lastname@example.org
*** Veterans who need assistance can reach the VA on its crisis hotline (800-273-8255, press 1). Counselors also can be reached by texting to 838255 or through an online chat at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat. (Morning Call, 2019)
*** Special thanks to Sarah Wargo for speaking with me about her brave son Michael, and providing me with the information for this “Blogging for Better” endeavor. Thank you Mrs. Wargo, for all that you do for the veteran community in honor of your beloved son. As the wife of a veteran, I cannot thank you enough. As a mother, I cannot tell you enough for how truly sorry I am for your loss and offer my sincerest condolences.