SAVING THOSE WHO SERVE: East Texas mother pleads for change after son commits suicide while serving

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) – One East Texas mother is sharing her personal experience after her son in the Army committed suicide.

“From the time Cody was about 4 years old, all I ever heard from him is ‘I’m gonna be an army guy, I’m gonna be an army guy,'” said Barbie Rohde.

Sergeant Cody Bowman committed suicide eight months ago, but Rohde remembers the day she got the news of her son’s passing like it was yesterday.

“March 19th they came to my door, I just got off of work and two guys in dressed blues came to my door and as a military mother, you never want to see those guys,” said Rohde. “I immediately start screaming at them. What’s wrong with my son, what’s wrong with my son.”

Officers had found Sergeant Cody Bowman at Fort Sam Houston Base with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

No one saw signs of suicide for him, especially not his mother.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, more than 6,000 veterans have committed suicide every year since 2006.

That’s 78,000 lives over the past 13 years that could have been saved.

Every single day, more than 20 servicemen and women are choosing this option instead of life.

“When this happened, we were shocked, no one knew, because all he ever said was I’m good, I’m good,” said Rohde. “Veterans are taught to hide their weakness. They’re not supposed to show weakness.”

Which is exactly the issue she is trying to bring to light.

“We don’t want another family to suffer what we do, and it’s a daily, daily struggle. I’d say minute to minute struggle,” said Rohde.

Giving up his future, because the present became too much. Something his family never saw coming.

Sergeant Bowman leaves behind a daughter who his mother says looks exactly like him.

“He was a perfect dad, they were crazy about each other,” said Rohde.

Contemplating suicide herself after his burial, she says there were dark days until the light of her purpose broke through.

“As a mother, I blamed myself, why didn’t he come to his mom and tell his mom what was wrong? What gave me comfort and what still gives me comfort is that it was explained to me that when they get in that place, and they make that decision to end their life, they aren’t thinking about mom, they aren’t thinking about dad. They want out of the pain,” said Rohde.

She joined Mission 22, a non-profit organization that brings national awareness to veteran’s needs including treatment programs for suicidal soldiers. For a full list of what they do and how you can receive help, click here.

“This is what he would’ve wanted me to do. And I know right now he’s in heaven thinking mom, you’re doing good,” said Rohde. “That’s what gives me comfort, knowing he’s proud of me.”

Rohde said veterans are the most deserving group to devote these resources to as they are willing to die today for our freedoms and the least we can do is help save them.

If you are a veteran, you may reach out to Rohde anytime. She wants to make her cell phone number available to any veteran who needs a person to talk to. She says if she can just help ONE veteran choose life over death, then she has fulfilled a purpose.

You can reach her at 903 805 1637. This is not the last you will see of her. She is constantly hosting benefits for Mission 22 around East Texas and KETK plans on supporting her mission through and through.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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