Paul Muschick: Carbon County soldier survived Afghanistan. Then he lost 'the war at home.'
January 25, 2019
“We can’t undo what happened but if we could stop some other soldier from doing what Michael did and some other family going through what we did, this is all worth it.” Mike Wargo
Army Spc. Michael Wargo returned from military service in Afghanistan with "terrific survivor guilt" and PTSD, according to his parents. He took his life eight years later, leaving them a long video message in which he described his pain and how he suffered in silence. (CONTRIBUTED/MIKE AND SARAH WARGO)When Michael Wargo returned from war in the Middle East, he looked fine. But he wasn’t.
He had endured a lot. Like many soldiers, he suffered in silence. He didn’t want anyone to know how troubled he was.
Eight years later, he took his life.
The suicide rate among veterans is high. They make up 8.3 percent of the adult population and account for 14.3 percent of adult suicides, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. An average of 20 veterans die by suicide each day.
Wargo’s parents, Mike and Sarah Wargo of Mahoning Township, are on a mission of their own now: to reduce that number. They are using their son’s story to illustrate the need for more to be done to stop veterans from losing “the war at home.”
“We can’t undo what happened but if we could stop some other soldier from doing what Michael did and some other family going through what we did, this is all worth it,” Mike Wargo said.
The Wargos reached out to me after reading a column I wrote about the VA not spending the bulk of the money it allotted for suicide prevention advertising last year.
The VA said that happened because leadership was in flux and the suicide prevention program was being realigned. It said changes since have been made and nearly twice as much is planned for suicide prevention outreach this year.
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