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  • Britt Myers

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

Earlier this month, we shared the first part of Ty Buras’s story in honor of Military Appreciation Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. If you haven’t read that yet, start here. Otherwise, please continue reading for more details of his journey. 

When we left off, it was 2004, and Ty and his unit received 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?”

Ty Buras in Iraq.

It was bad.

They were hit with mortars every single day, sometimes two or three times a day. Ty’s unit was very lucky to not have any deaths, though they felt the pain of loss from the other units they had grown close to. 

“The stress was getting to me,” Ty shared. “My demons began to resurface and I found myself trying to die. I stayed in the open. I volunteered for any mission I could go on. I had a death wish. The pain was so great, all I wanted to do was die.”

Ty physically survived Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), but his mental and emotional well-being was hanging on by a thread. The demons he kept at bay for years could no longer be silenced, and everything came crashing down when he retired from 22 years of active duty and 7 years of reserve service with the U.S. Army. 

Ty Buras pictured throughout his Army career.

“I was completely lost,” he recounted. “The Army was my life and my passion. Besides my wife, it was the love of my life. And now, I was no longer doing what I loved and had nowhere to turn.”

In 2018, Ty made the decision to take his own life.

Miraculously, his wife and a former soldier caught him just in time. He entered treatment, received life-saving professional help, and faced the toughest battle he had ever fought – one for his life. This time, the hiding was over and the real healing began.

Ty was ready to close the book on that chapter of his life and turn the page to a new beginning. 

Ty Buras after retiring from the Army.

He found purpose and healing with the help and support of his counselor, church, family, and an attention-seeking, belly-scratch-loving, life-saving service dog named Wrigley.

Through the support of a national nonprofit called Chive Charities, a 501(c)3 that provides grants for veterans, military families, first responders, and those with a rare medical diagnosis, Ty was awarded $10,000 to cover the cost of a service dog through Retrieving Freedom.

Retrieving Freedom is a nonprofit organization committed to enhancing the lives of veterans and children with autism through its specialized service dog training program. Beyond assisting with designated tasks and responsibilities aligned with their specialized training, these extraordinary dogs provide invaluable companionship and unwavering, unconditional love. 

Ty Buras's service dog, Wrigley.

After completing the intake and matching process, Ty learned he’d welcome a black labrador retriever named Wrigley into his life and home. The impact of Wrigley’s near-constant face licks, tail wags, and love for Ty – let alone the mobility and emotional assistance she provides – is hard to quantify. 

“Before I got Wrigley, I never left the house,” Ty said. “With her help, I’m more comfortable in public places and she calms my anxieties. I was having a hard therapy session once, but Wrigley climbed up beside me and gently rested her head on my lap, comforting me.”

She has saved his life, in more ways than one.

Ty Buras and his service dog, Wrigley, pose outside of the Retrieving Freedom organization.

Ty has experienced more than most people could imagine but through his willingness to seek support, he found the resources he needed to change the course of his life, including mental health counseling and a service dog. For others looking for additional support, there are many reputable organizations committed to standing in the gaps. You only need to reach out. To share your story and connect with Mission Roll Call, please submit your information here.

Ty Buras served his country for nearly 30 years, overcoming enormous obstacles and relentlessly fighting for his mental health. It doesn’t mean the journey is over. It doesn’t mean there won’t be more sorrow or more joy still to come. It means Ty is here to write the next chapter of his life – and that is a story worth telling.

If you’re a veteran in crisis or concerned about one, there are responders standing by to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please call the Veteran Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 or Vets4Warriors at 855-838-8255.

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