Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Kimberly Diane Agar

Dallas, Texas

October 3, 2011

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
26 Army Sgt

Schwetzingen, Germany

 Served in Iraq as Heavy Transport Driver, died while on active duty in Germany.

Sgt. Kimberly Diane Agar 10/3/2011
Place of birth: Dallas 
Given how many times Kimberly Agar sang the national anthem in her youth, perhaps it should not have been surprising that she became a soldier. Sgt. Agar's decision to enlist in the Army in 2006, two years after graduation from Birdville High School and during the worst of the sectarian violence in Iraq, surprised her mother, who was already seeing off her oldest child to the Air Force. But in hindsight, one day after she buried her daughter at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, her mother sees some poetry in her daughter's choice. "She spent her whole life honoring our country," said Margy Agar, who lives in Bedford. Sgt. Agar, 25, switched from driving massive trucks and refueling helicopters to representing the Army in a prestigious band and chorus in Europe, a job that could not have been better suited to her passion for singing patriotic tunes. She was found dead in her barracks in Schwetzingen, Germany, on Oct. 3 after she failed to show up for a medical appointment, according to the Army. She was memorialized at Bluebonnet Hills Funeral Home on Wednesday and buried with full honors. "The cause of death has not been determined," said Joseph Garvey, a spokesman for U.S. Army Europe. "An investigation is ongoing." Sgt. Agar was born in Dallas but raised in North Richland Hills. From the time she was 6, she sang. She sang for residents of nursing homes and in teenage pageants. She joined the TKO Kids Singing Troupe, where she got to perform in the White House in 1996. She sang the national anthem at Fort Worth Brahmas games, at Lone Star Park and at high school football stadiums. The year she joined the Army she sang God Bless America during the seventh-inning stretch at a Texas Rangers game. But after high school and a try at community college, Sgt. Agar joined the Army. Not surprisingly, she sang the national anthem at the graduation ceremony for her basic training class. Nine months later, she was driving a truck in a convoy in Iraq. "She was an 88 Mike," her mother said, using Army lingo for a motor transport operator. "I was just amazed my little girl would be climbing a ladder and driving this huge truck. She was outside the wire every day." She survived an attack with an improvised explosive device and spoke little about it to her family, who knew only that her deployment affected her emotionally when she first returned. She earned an Army Commendation Medal for her service in Iraq, which lasted 15 months, the Army said. She re-enlisted in 2010 and requested to go to Germany. Urged on by her commanders, Sgt. Agar auditioned for the U.S. Army Europe Band & Chorus and earned a spot as a vocalist and assistant choreographer early this year. Just a few days before her death, she performed at the home of Army Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling before a delegation of Hungarian officials. "The impact that this loss will have is huge," her commanders in Germany wrote in a memorial to her. "Kimberly was loved and respected by all who knew her. Kimberly loved what she was doing. She always gave all she had and came to work fully prepared for the musical missions she was tasked with." In just a short time, Sgt. Agar performed for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, traveled to Serbia, sang for ambassadors and donned a World War II-era uniform to sing for Queen Elizabeth's 85th birthday this year. "She got to travel Europe on the Army," her father, Michael Agar, said from his home in Colleyville. "She vacationed in London for Christmas and Paris for New Year's. She was in Barcelona this summer. She was having a good ol' time." Her family requested that memorials be sent to the Wounded Warrior Project. She is also survived by her brothers, Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Agar and Christopher Agar.
From News 21 backHOME news21.com 08/24/2013

A Dream Come True Ends in Suicide for Soldier 
by Chase Cook, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Fellow | News21 
Published Aug. 24, 2013
The roadside bomb blasted the safety hatch and blew away the windshields on the heavy transport that Army Pfc. Kimberly Agar rode across Iraq during the 2007 surge. As she regained her composure, insurgents rained rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire on the convoy for about 15 minutes. Agar climbed into the back seat and returned fire as the convoy pushed through the ambush.
Agar’s group didn’t suffer fatalities in that attack but she was diagnosed as having a concussion after she complained of headaches and insomnia, about a day after the bombing.
About a year later, Agar finished her 15-month deployment and went home to Dallas for a two-week break before returning to Fort Benning, Ga. Her mother, Margy Agar, though, noticed her daughter was different, saying she was distant, withdrawn and not “my Kimi anymore.”
In 2009, Kimberly Agar re-enlisted and was posted to Germany, a place she had always wanted to visit. There, the talented vocalist who swept pageants in her childhood and teen years eventually made the U.S. Army Europe Band and Chorus, singing with the elite, selective military musical troupe that performs at diplomatic and military events.
It was a job that the younger Kimberly would have envied — getting paid to travel the world as an entertainer. Agar told everyone it was her dream gig. But there were lingering effects of her injuries, fragile emotions and even a suicide attempt.

Early in October 2011, Agar killed herself in Germany after struggling with a minor traumatic brain injury.
Agar was one of 301 military suicides in 2011, according to the Department of Defense. In 2012, the number of suicides climbed to 350, exceeding combat deaths that year.
Unlike many combat veterans interviewed in this project, the singer-turned-soldier made the decision to stay in the military, continuing a career she loved.

Memory loss, anxiety and insomnia followed Agar from Iraq to Dallas to Germany.
Agar was born in Dallas, Nov. 25, 1985. She and her two brothers grew up in Texas.
Margy Agar called Kimberly “her joy.” She always was energetic and passionate about entertaining people, her mother said. When she was younger, Kimberly’s plans were to move to California and pursue an entertainment career, Margy Agar said.
Kimberly Agar traveled around Texas competing in pageants and singing her heart out. On her bedside wall, she posted photos of all the famous people she met. In 1996, she performed at the White House with a youth group.
Jessica Edwards was her best friend in school. They had sleepovers, gushed over boys and listened to country singers, Edwards said. LeAnn Rimes was Agar’s favorite.
Agar’s voice was one of her trademarks, Edwards said. During school performances, Agar confidently belted solos. She was not only talented, but also beautiful, Edwards said. Everyone knew her and she didn’t have any enemies.
But Agar’s apparently happy childhood was marred by her parents’ separation when she was 13 and divorce when she was 16, Margy Agar said. It was around that time that Kimberly and her father argued during a phone conversation. Afterward Kimberly cut her wrist in front of her mother.

That was her first suicide attempt, but it was more a “cry for help” than anything else, Margy Agar said. Kimberly took her father's leaving very hard.
After high school, Kimberly attended Tarrant County College, but her dyslexia made school life difficult. She quit to work on singing, but when her older brother joined the Air Force in July 2006, she was inspired to serve. Agar joined the Army in October of that year, and by July 2007 was deployed to Iraq.
Agar drove heavy equipment, massive semis that primarily moved tanks across the country, said Sgt. Mitchell Amos, her platoon sergeant.

It’s a job with little sleep, traveling from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. over some of the most dangerous roads in Iraq during her 15-month deployment, Amos said.
“Mentally, it was destructive,” he said.
Agar didn’t open up about her injuries and depression until she got back to Georgia with her company. Amos told her to seek help, then join a military chorus so she could resume singing.
Things did get better for Agar after she re-enlisted and went to Germany, those interviewed said. 
There, she refueled helicopters and met her new best friend, Sarah Hough. Agar did everything she could for the people she came across and she loved to try new things, Hough said. They spent evenings and weekends shopping, drinking and doing “normal stuff.”
Agar didn’t speak often of the injuries she suffered in Iraq, or anything else bothering her. If she did talk about it, it was vague, Hough said.
In February 2011, Agar applied for the elite U.S. Army Europe Band and Chorus. After the 30-day process she was selected as a vocalist. It marked her return to traveling, singing and dancing.
“When she made the chorus she was on cloud nine,” her mother said. “She thanked God for living her dream getting paid to do what she loved.”
Agar’s performances earned her the Coin of Excellence from the Afghanistan Minister of Defense. She also was selected as the chorus assistant dance choreographer, according to her obituary written by the chorus Chain of Command.
But the job wasn’t perfect.
Michael Webb, a retired Army sergeant and former band and chorus member, said the troupe was akin to “a fraternity.” Chorus members would bully one another, he said, about their performances and sometimes there was professional jealousy.
“They really let you have it. From what I can see from my perspective, maybe they were a little too hard,” Webb said.
Fearing the critiques would get her kicked out of the chorus, Agar became unreasonably critical of herself, paranoid that she would lose her job in the chorus, according to sworn statements in Army records.
Besides close friends, nobody at the time knew Agar was struggling with injuries from her deployment, Webb said.
On Sept. 6, 2011, after a harsh critique from a chorus member, Agar sent her mother a Facebook message.
“It said, ‘Mom, just remember I will always love you,’” Margy Agar said.
After several phone calls, Margy Agar was told her daughter had overdosed and was found with her wrists cut while sad music played in the background.
Kimberly Agar was taken to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, where she stayed for 11 days. Her doctor wrote “patient is likely unfit for service.”
Agar returned to her barracks, but requested a move to a higher floor. This floor only had one other person living on it and she was isolated from her friends. She was back to work two weeks after her suicide attempt, Margy Agar said.
Webb saw her once after the attempt.
“I remember coming to formation in the morning. I walked by her and she looked kind of down and out of it,” Webb said. “Why couldn’t they tell us, her friends, that she [attempted suicide] so we could help her. Once I knew everything, I felt bad.”
On Sept. 30, 2011, an argument among chorus members prompted a meeting, scheduled for the following Monday. Over the weekend, Agar and some friends went shopping; it was the last time she was seen alive, Margy Agar said.
Kimberly’s death so devastated Margy Agar that she now suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress. She won’t say how her daughter died.
“Sometimes I feel like she is still in Germany,” Agar said.
From Joint Base San Antonio jbsa.mil 09/26/13

Suicide victim's mother calls for improved mental health education
By Robert Goetz | Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs | Sept. 26, 2013 

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — The mother of an Army sergeant who died by suicide two years ago - a victim of mental anguish caused by a traumatic brain injury suffered in combat in Iraq - brought her daughter's story to Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph last week.

Margy Agar, the mother of Sgt. Kimberly Agar, a 25-year-old Soldier who died Oct. 3, 2011, emphasized the need for better assessment of battleground injuries and called for improved education and communication regarding mental health issues during a symposium Sept. 19 at the JBSA-Randolph Chapel Annex, one of the events of Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month.

"I'm here for two reasons - one, to honor her because it is well-deserved, and two, by becoming her voice - the voice over the stigma of suicide and all that goes with it," she said.

Agar, who said she hopes to instigate change "to open up minds to education, because that is the only thing that will lead this epidemic into a new direction," told the story of a young woman, a former beauty queen, with a vocal talent and her numerous renditions of the national anthem that were heard from her home in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and Fort Benning, Ga., and from Iraq to Germany.

Agar spoke of Kim's attributes and her patriotism - her dream to serve her country. However, she was also "conflicted with the demons of war," her life altered in 2007 when an improvised explosive device detonated at the driver's door of the convoy truck she was driving. Kim suffered a traumatic brain injury, but it was not diagnosed for four years, long after its effects had begun to take their toll on her and just months before her death.

In addition to the headaches, nausea, memory loss, insomnia and depression that resulted from her injury, Kim suffered from tinnitus, which impacted her "dream job" as a vocalist in the U.S. Army Band and Chorus in Europe based in Germany.

Agar said Kim's tinnitus "sometimes caused her not to be able to hear the music and occasionally she would sing off-key.

"Another extenuating circumstance based on all the prior happenings was that she not only had tinnitus, but she was disrespected and bullied for it," she said.

Despite the relentless bullying, Kim did not report any of her symptoms in "tremendous fear of losing her job," Agar said.

"In retrospect, she didn't seek help for these injuries caused by the IED until she received her diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury in May 2011, four years after the IED," she said.

Agar said Kim spent 11 of her final days in the hospital receiving treatment for her mental condition before being released to return to her barracks, where she requested a room on an isolated floor with no roommate. 

Despite a doctor's orders to keep her on suicide watch, a social worker took her off it, Agar said, when she failed to show up for work after a four-day weekend, Kim was found in her room.

Agar, who said some of her family members are "disgruntled" because she is "telling the world" that her daughter died of suicide, said mental illness "needs to be addressed because it can be treated."

"It does not have to be fatal," she said.

The symposium also featured comments by Chaplain (Capt.) Mark McGregor, from JBSA-Randolph's Chapel office, who addressed ways to find healing in the aftermath of suicide.

"With spirituality and suicide, one of the things is to be able to find a way of healing, and one of the most important ways is to keep that story alive," he said. 

McGregor said the person who is gone "can still be present in a life-giving way."

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