Master Sergeant Andrew Christian Marckesano served in more than half a dozen combat tours overseas which included six full tours in Afghanistan.
The U.S. Army is mourning the loss of a decorated Green Beret, described as the real "Captain America," who died by suicide. If anything, Master Sergeant Andrew Christian Marckesano was known for his strength and the news of his death sent shockwaves through the Army. Being assigned to the 82nd Airborne and then to the Ranger Regiment, Marckesano had served more than half a dozen combat tours overseas which included six full tours in Afghanistan. Eventually, he became a decorated Green Beret and a Silver Star recipient before moving to Washington, D.C.
Tragic. Wow. My heart breaks for every single veteran that feels this is the only option.— Rachel Tomasi (@thetomasifour) July 11, 2020
In Washington, he began his desired job at the Pentagon but two days following the Fourth of July, tragedy struck the family. He died by suicide in front of his wife after returning home from dinner with his former battalion leader in Old Town, Alexandria, on Monday night. Marckesano had three small kids and was still on active duty, reports Fox News. The sudden death left his family, friends, and military leaders at a devastating loss who simply couldn't accept the fact that he had passed away. Several of them told the outlet that Marckesano never fully recovered from his Afghanistan's Arghandab Valley in 2009.
You know individuals that served before 9/11 have just as much as a problem with suicide than their service members after 9/11. I know this because I was in before 9/11 and did not get the help that most other service members did.— Stephanie Nearing (@Snearing13) July 11, 2020
He was with the 2-508, "a battalion which had one of the highest casualty rates of any unit during the war," according to Fox News. Explaining the impact it had on the army men, the battalion’s former Command Sgt Major Bert Puckett said, "That deployment was like being in the ring with Mike Tyson for a year." Urging others in the battalion to seek help if they are suffering, he made a passionate appeal, "Text me, I told you before my door is open... my phone is at hand. We did things that people make movies about and in some cases, writers and producers wouldn’t even try to write our story... the rucksack is heavy... and when it gets heavy we [&$#*] help each other, but you have to reach out... Don’t let the Valley win."
This makes me so angry. We have the supreme responsibility to care for our veterans, our heroes. Without their sacrifice we have nothing and are nothing as a country.— Gordon Reina (@ForeTX) July 11, 2020
There's a 24/7 Veteran Crisis Line, 1-800-273-8255, which is encouraged to be contacted. Now the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also has same-day access for emergency mental health care. If the VA isn't able to provide timely care to the veterans directly, they have a right to seek private-sector at the VA's expense, under the Trump Administration. Marckesano became the 30th person from the battalion to have died by suicide. Tragically, 20 combat veterans die by suicide every single day. It is an epidemic that the White House and the military are attempting to stop. Just last month the PREVENTS Task Force was launched by President Trump and the inauguration ceremony took place in the White House. "My administration is marshaling every resource to stop the crisis of veteran suicide and protect our nation's most treasured heroes. They've been through so much, and it's such a deep-seated problem," explained Trump.
Staff Sergeant Allen Thomas, a three-time combat tour infantryman with the 82nd Airborn, also served in the same battalion as Marckesano. Unfortunately, he too died by suicide back in 2013 leaving his wife Danica and two daughters behind. Danica was also present at the White House during the June ceremony where the President launched the suicide prevention initiative with The Independence Fund and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Be a Hero for a Hero. Thomas had a suicide bomber detonate and rip through his body. After months at Walter Reed, he finally recovered from severe polytrauma but, however, continued struggling with PTSD.
My sincere condolences for your loss Danica😢💔 Your husband, SSG Allen Thomas is a #Hero & suicide will not define either him or his accomplishments on behalf of our Country🇺🇸👏🏼 God Bless You, Your Husband & Your Children🙏🏼 #suicideprevention #SupportOurTroops https://t.co/ams67HXV7r— Cynthia S. Brown (@cyndiblaw1) March 11, 2019
After being retired on medical grounds, Thomas kept missing the military mission and felt useless in his life as a civilian, recalled his wife. Then in September 2013, Thomas urged his young wife to take him to the Fayetteville VA Emergency Room for a psychiatric evaluation. Due to the unavailability of beds, the VA sent the veteran home with a prescription for pain killers. This is something that will not be happening today thanks to the latest procedures. "Days later, the last words Allen said to me were ‘I love you.’ I heard the gun cock, then he went out the door and I heard the door shut on us. Just like the VA had shut the door on him," wrote Danica Thomas of her husband's mental breakdown in 2013.
"Eyewitnesses said Allen’s last words were 'I got it. I cleared the house.' We think at the time Allen thought he was back in Afghanistan. But in body, Allen was in our residential neighborhood in Fayetteville. He thought he was taking out the enemy, but instead, it was two innocent neighbors and their dog," reports Fox News. That night 68-year-old Ann Awaldt and her husband Todd were killed and after this, the two-time Purple Heart recipient turned the gun on himself. "We believe he came back to the here and now and realized what happened. Then, he fell to his knees and turned the gun on himself. I heard the crack of the gunshot from across the neighborhood. He did everything right; he wasn’t too proud to ask for help, and he asked for it. But the VA was too broken to provide it. And because of that, three lives were lost just days after he asked for help," Danica wrote.