BELLEVUE (KPTM)- The United States Army is investigating a growing number of suicides and the issue is hitting close to home.
A soldier from Bellevue took his own life in May. He was just 23 years old. His family is looking for closure. They think that could come by getting his uniform, medals and personal belongings back that the military never sent.
"I curl up in his sheets because they smell like him," Jeannine Gard said of her son Andrew Cogswell.
He had plans to go to college after he served his country.
"He loved boot camp, by the time he was done he was talking about wow I should have signed up for 6 or 8 years."
Gard said her son never had problems in the army until he went on his second week leave while in Iraq. The sergeant that filled in for him was killed.
"He was in Andrew's words like a military dad." Grief caused things to go downhill for Cogswell and he started having suicidal thoughts documented in his medical files. "Irrational anger, thoughts of suicide, mood swings."
Cogswell took an absence without leave to clear his head, only to come back to find his belongings gone. "He was in Iraq for a year, a got back and everything was gone."
Cogswell never got his things back. "Nobody ever contacted him and said we have your stuff, never once." He was even handed a bill from the military for his missing gear and he lost his rank. "It was just one more thing that he had to deal with."
He ended up taking his own life in his sister's home in Bellevue. Now Gard just wants closure that could only come from getting his things back.
"The army is telling me they have to find an inventory that they took when they took my sons belongings in the first place."
Gard felt certain she'd never find them until she got a call about two weeks ago from another military family.
They found his items in an auction in Ft. Hood, including his class uniform. They contacted me but not the military."
"It makes me so mad because Gard could have buried him in his uniform respectfully if that was what she wanted to do but she didn't have that," Uilani Dodd said.
Instead of keeping it, the Dodds hoped to get it back to Gard and told the army to get it to them.
"They were sincere they shook my hand, it's going to be shipped off today in 24 hours and I trusted them," Dodd said.
But the items never shipped and are back with the army to be investigated. "It doesn't belong to you guys it belongs to his mother and that's where it should go." But there is still hope for Gard." What they don't know is I have Andrews uniform, his class A's with his embroidered bag."
The Dodds plan to hand deliver the uniform in person to Gard, but there is no telling when the other items might be returned.
Gard said she hopes this won't happen to another family. Gard said she wished her son would have known about the free help the VA can provide for soldiers who might have suicidal thoughts.