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  • Britt Myers

When the End Is Just the Beginning: Ty's Story, Part I

Updated: May 15

At Mission Roll Call, our top priority is veteran suicide prevention. One of the greatest barriers many service members face in sharing their stories is the perceived stigma of voicing such vulnerable personal experiences. For many years, Ty Buras felt the same. Thankfully, with the support of his wife, family, and community, he broke his silence and courageously shared his challenges to heal, recover, and encourage others to do the same. This is part one of his story. 

Ty Buras stands in his U.S. Army uniform.

Ty Buras’s 29-year-long Army career is like a row of books held together by two bookends. On the left side is the beginning, a marker that starts the chain along which everything else will follow. The middle is filled with stories - moments of triumph and pure, unadulterated happiness alongside pages of fear, uncertainty, and the deepest pits of despair. And there, at the farthest point from the start, is the end. A final bookend that closes the loop. 

Looking back, there are quite a few stories Ty would like to pull from the rest and never see again. But if you remove one, everything falls. The in-between is what keeps the whole thing together. You need the good with the bad to get the full picture. You need the joy and the sorrow to come out on the other side. Ty’s had his share of both.

Ty Buras pictured with the 3rd Armored Division.

In 1987, Ty joined the U.S. Army as a mechanized infantryman in the 24th infantry. Two years later, he was sent to Kirchgoens, Germany, E co. 5/5 Cav, 1st Brigade 3rd Armored Division. 

“It was still during the Cold War era, so the atmosphere was always on edge,” Ty recounted. “I knew it was serious there when my Company Commander took all of us new soldiers to our D.I.P. (Die In Place) position at the Fulda Gap. He proceeded to tell us that if the Russians ever attacked, this is where we would make our final stand. He also told us that the life expectancy of a grunt here was roughly 11 seconds. That scared me pretty good.”

Thankfully, Ty’s fear was short-lived, and his training in Germany was fairly straightforward. By late 1990, he was preparing to return to the United States and even considered leaving the Army to become a civilian again. 

It wasn’t meant to be. 

The President went on television and announced that he was deploying the 3rd Armored Division and other units to Saudi Arabia. “When we heard his words, we were all hooting and hollering,” Ty said. “At the time, fear did not take root yet.” Instead of returning home, Ty and his unit deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield. 

Ty Buras during Operation Desert Shield.

Here, the days of straightforward military training were over, and the real combat began. “I saw devastation at its worst,” he told us. “Dead Iraqi bodies lying outside or halfway out of their blown-up vehicles. Fires that lit up the sky. The smell was horrendous, and even now, I can remember the smell of burning flesh like it was yesterday.” 

These are the moments Ty wishes he could pull out and replace with new ones. But there was more to his story, more of the in-between still to come.

After Desert Storm, Ty switched from active duty to reserves and was sent back to the U.S. 

Things seemed pretty normal for a while. He went to school, got a job, and found a wonderful woman to share his life with. Only things weren’t as they seemed. Ty had debilitating nightmares and insomnia, and he drank every single day. 

“I sought professional help and was basically told it was in my head,” Ty told us. “I dropped out of school because I couldn’t focus or get good enough grades - or because I was too drunk.”

One night at work, Ty decided he was done. “I took my service gun and stuck it in my mouth. I was ready for the end. Luckily, my boss caught me and took me to the hospital, and I stayed there until I got better,” he quietly said. 

“With the help of my wife and family, I did get better. The thought of suicide was always there, though. I just hid it well.”

Through it all, Ty stayed in the Army Reserves until 1999, when he became a platoon sergeant in his unit. “I took this job profoundly seriously,” he said. “I cleaned up my act and put all of my energy into training my soldiers to survive combat. I was still fighting my demons inside, but I kept them hidden.” 

Then September 11th happened, a date we would all like to pull out from the rest and replace with something new. 

By 2004, Ty and his unit got mobilization orders and were sent back to Iraq. When they arrived, they went to a small FOB outside Baghdad called “Log Base Seitz.” Ty was a little worried but thought, “I’m not in the infantry anymore, so how bad could it be?”

We’re about to find out. Find the second and final part of Ty's story here.

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