By Brian Vosicky
About a year and a half ago, I wrote an article for the Island Packet about my personal experiences with PTSD and how the USCB Sand Sharks Veterans club helped unite fellow servicemembers who may be struggling to cope with civilian life. I spoke about the deepest wounds being unseen and that many people aren’t fully aware of the severity of the problem until it is too late to act.
On March 31st, Nick Becker – US Army combat veteran, USCB student, SSV member, and my friend – tragically succumbed to his hidden wounds and took his own life.
Nick was loved tremendously by all who knew him. Known best for his witty sense of humor and Chesire-cat grin, he was always a bright light in the room. People would naturally gravitate towards his magnetic charm. He was incredibly intelligent, compassionate, fearless and had a true warrior spirit.
Nick was one of the first friends I made at USCB. Despite the style and class I may exude in my writing, I do not always seem as approachable in person – Nick saw right through my grizzled demeanor from the beginning. There’s an old saying that war veterans can recognize the “thousand-yard stare” in the eyes of a fellow vet, so perhaps he saw that I was struggling, too.
We bonded while exchanging a few war stories, often making light of sometimes darker subject matter. It was cathartic for both of us to share our toughest experiences with each other, knowing that we were safe to fully express what we were going through without a fear of social repercussions. It helped me a lot – I wish I could have helped him even more.
While I had no problem committing to SSV community outreach efforts on my own, it was always an added bonus to discover that Nick was going to attend the event as well. There was never a dull moment with him around. Even while picking up trash after festivals in Old Town Bluffton, Becker would always manage to find some cold brews for the group to enjoy. He was always a people-pleaser who was never afraid to roll up his sleeves.
Above all else, I truly admired his moral character. He was a fellow proponent for the sciences, secular humanism, skepticism, globalism, liberty, and justice. Like me, he despised hypocrisy, so he always made sure to practice what he preached.
He was a friend to all and a protector of the weak. While we shared many similar views on politics, religion, philosophy, business, and ethics, I most enjoyed when we were at odds. His sharp intellect, vast knowledge, and life experiences often challenged my most stringent beliefs. I will truly miss having that challenge.
I urge all of you to keep fighting for the ones who have already fought for all of us. When the troops come home and the media coverage fades, the war isn’t over – not for everyone. Stay vigilant to veteran organizations, donate, volunteer, write to your legislators, and keep reaching out to those you suspect might be suffering in silence. No one should ever have to feel like they are going through this alone.
“My parting words to all of you is to have a sense of humor, the world is a funny place.” -Nick Becker
Brian Vosicky is a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Middle East, Europe and Africa. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina Beaufort. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.