Army Specialist Robert Joseph Allen grew up in a military family, and followed the family tradition when he enlisted during his early 20s. He served for three years, including a deployment to Iraq with the Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.


After returning stateside, he lived with his wife and their two sons while stationed in Washington. Two years later — on August 2, 2012 — he died by suicide. That year saw the highest rate of active-duty military suicides ever recorded — more soldiers died from suicide than combat.

His mother, Cathy Sprigg, sat down with StoryCorps in Tampa, Florida to remember him.

Top photo: Cathy Sprigg with her son, Army Specialist Robert Joseph Allen, at Tampa International Airport in 2010. Allen was headed back to Iraq  after being on leave for the birth of his son. Courtesy of Cathy Sprigg.
Bottom photo: Cathy Sprigg and her son, Army Specialist Robert Joseph Allen, dancing at his wedding in 2009. Courtesy of Cathy Sprigg.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or just needs someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Originally aired May 26, 2018, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. It was rebroadcast on May 28, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition.