After a tragedy just over two years ago, the Bomba de Tioga family found themselves in an unexpected place last month.
“We went to the White House on November 18,” said Angela Bomba, a substitute teacher at RB Walter Elementary School. “The day before, we were called and invited. It was kind of last minute, but I’m not sure if they realized we had moved in here.
Bomba and her sons, Jacob, 7, and Thomas, 13, were invited to Washington, DC, by Maryland Congressman David Trone. His bill to improve mental health care for first responders was to be enacted by President Joe Biden and he wanted the family whose loved one inspired the bill to witness the event.
Bomba’s husband, Thomas “TJ” Bomba, was a police officer in Montgomery County, Maryland, for 13 years before his death.
“He committed suicide on October 14, 2019,” Bomba said. “Congressman Trone was already very supportive of law enforcement and improving mental health, so when he heard my husband’s story he wrote the COPS bill.”
The Trone Privacy Opportunities for Peer Support Act aims to “improve mental health care for first responders by creating more peer counseling programs and clear standards of confidentiality,” according to the website. Throne. The law was enacted by President Biden on November 18.
Angela Bomba said the stigma around law enforcement officers seeking help with mental health issues is part of the problem.
“The police are considered strong and tough and going to sit down and talk to a counselor about their feelings or what they saw or what they had to go through is not easy for them”, a- she declared.
“At the beginning, when we moved for the first time [to Maryland] he would tell me stories about things he had seen and then he sort of stopped over the years because it was hard to hear and hard for him to talk about. I’m sure it all added up, for him and the other people in his department.
In addition to the hardships of his job, Thomas also had to deal with physical ailments for about 10 years before his death.
“He had contracted a flesh-eating bacteria at the police academy where he was helping. He spent two months in shock trauma in Baltimore, then two months in rehab, ”Bomba said. “He had it all wrong at one point; he had a cerebral catheter, a trachea, a feeding tube, dialysis and his heart stopped twice. It was as if he had suffered a head trauma.
She continued, “He was never quite the same person. So between that and his job and his depression, after 10 years, I guess he just couldn’t get back to where he was.
Bomba and her sons moved to Tioga, where she grew up and still has family, in 2020.
“It was overwhelming, but also a huge honor. There were all lawmakers and important people in the room and here we are, ”she said. “It was a great opportunity to honor my husband’s name.
The Bombas believed they would be right in the audience for the signing, but were asked to stand alongside President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
President Biden turned to Jacob and asked him what his name was, how old he was and what year he was in. And after he signed the bill, he turned and gave him the pen. “Bomba said. “It was very cool.”
She said the White House experience helped shine the light around the death of her husband, which she and her sons still grapple with.
“There is always heartbreak and especially at this time of year when you are putting up Christmas decorations, it feels like a lifetime of memories are coming back,” Bomba said. “But I think we’re all doing pretty well given the situation. We always try to be a family of three.