Nick Rodriguez left behind a twin brother, Tony Rodriguez. Tony, who enrolled in the Navy just after Nick joined the Marines, left the Armed Services shortly after Nick’s suicide. The twins’ mom and stepdad, Anna and Michael, describe Tony’s reaction to Nick’s suicide in the audio above.
Anna also talked about her twin sons in a speech she gave during a seminar on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at the VFW in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, April 4, 2013. An excerpt of Anna’s speech follows.
As I speak here today you will hear me mention both my sons, Nick and Tony, my identical twins. They were born December 11, 1987. When they were little and just starting to crawl I noticed something about them I didn’t see with my first son, so I decided to play a game with them one day. I placed one on one side of the apartment and the other on the other side, and lo and behold they crawled on the floor untll they found each other. That’s when I knew that there was a closeness between them I wouldn’t understand. They were inseparable.
They shared colds, chicken pox, music, learning how to ride a bike, everything they did, it was together. As they headed into their teens they started to find their own individual selves. But they always talked and hung out together comparing their own stuff. “Hey listen to this song Nick, what do you think of that Tony, and how do you do this, did you see what I just did?” It was definitely something special. And neat to be a part of.
In 2008, Nick joined the Marines. I thought shit, I knew what was coming next. And sure enough, in 2009, Tony joined the Navy. Nick was in Infantry stationed at Camp Pendelton, and Tony started his time in the Naval Reserves. In 2010, Nick left for Afghanistan, and again I thought, “shit, please don’t tell me.” Tony immediately put a request in to go over as well. He told Nick, “Hang on, I’m coming, wait for me.“ He couldn’t wait to get over there to be with Nick and to do his part as well. They both climbed in the ranks and were doing very well. They were proud of what they were doing.
When Nick returned in December of 2010, before Tony got a chance to go over, I was very relieved. Nick came home on December 18, and spent three-and-a-half weeks with us. It was so nice to have him home. The family was happy. He spent a lot of time with Tony and made time for all the other kids as well. He asked Tony if he would go with him to Cabelas to buy a gun. I didn’t want him to, but I knew the men come home and spend all that money they saved while they were away. I heard they buy cars, guns, motorcycles, stuff like that. So I didn’t think too much of it at the time. He’s a Marine, he knows how to use a weapon. Well they all got together and went to the range to try out the new gun. They all had a good time.
But I knew something wasn’t right. I didn’t know what. It was just a feeling I had I guess. I saw some changes. He didn’t quite seem like himself, but I didn’t ask. I let him know I loved him, that I was so proud of him and that I would always be here for him. I had no idea what was going on with him, and I didn’t know what to do.
We all got together on January 8, the day he was flying back to Camp Pendleton, and had breakfast. And that, my friends, was the last time I saw him.
Nick has been gone for two years now, and in that time Tony has shown his own signs of PTSD. Since Nick died, Tony has left the Navy, smashed two cars, lost two jobs, has been drinking a lot and tried to kill himself twice. And in December, 2012, he snapped. As I knew he would. On December 21, Tony brought a baseball bat to my house and smashed all my military items, and both my vehicles (which had military bumper stickers on them). He served some time in jail but is now in a program for veterans getting the therapy and help he really needs. He is doing really well. I am determined not to lose another son.
If I could save one person from this it would be worth all the pain I’m feeling. So I will get involved and I will do whatever I can do to help educate the public and maybe, just maybe make a difference. I will start with Tony.