A Career Cut Short: Special Agent (Ret.) Amanda L. Kopke

Amanda Kopke

Amanda Kopke
Special Agent (Ret.), Naval Criminal Investigative Service


Growing up everyone, including myself, believed I would be a teacher. In college, I was working towards my Bachelors of Business Administration, when literally one day I woke up knowing I would be bored and unfulfilled in the business world. Upon waking up, the seed of the idea of being a part of law enforcement had been planted. I was an FBI intern twice and that is where my passion for working terrorism investigations was born and blossomed.

While working on the major case on the JTTF, I decided I wanted to become a Special Agent and went through the entire process and was awaiting an assignment date. This is when a Special Agent from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) approached me to apply to become an NCIS Special Agent. I somehow managed to apply, go through their entire process, and get hired with an academy date with NCIS before the FBI, and that was the beginning of fate in my career.

Very quickly after the start of my career, I deployed for the first time in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, in direct support to Combined Task Force (CTF) 151: Counter-Piracy Operations. A few short months after returning from that initial deployment, I re-deployed in support of CTF-150: Counter-Narcotics Operations. While deployed I was notified that the Piracy and Narcotics missions for NCIS were combining and resulting in permanent change of station orders for a select group. I was selected for the group to be moved to Bahrain to directly support the contingency operations in the combat theater.

In May 2012, while in Madagascar with INTERPOL and the French Gendarmerie to interrogate and extrapolate intelligence from the pirates in custody there, I was bitten by an “unidentified African arthropod,” most likely a fly. These bites unfortunately transferred a parasite into my skin. After returning to Bahrain, I was hospitalized twice for a total of 13 days, then transferred via military medevac to the Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. After a week of unsuccessful treatment and extensive evaluations, I was transferred via a 2nd medevac to Walter Reed Regional Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. The total hospitalization and medevac time was just over one month in duration.

In February 2018, at the age of 34, I retired on a medical retirement due to the unknown illness.

I can assure you that I never expected to be retired at the age of 34, nor did I expect a fly to end my career. I was mentally prepared to be shot, stabbed, or even hit by a car. I was not in any way prepared for an insect to be the catalytic force that ultimately resulted in my career ending.

I had envisioned my career being a full career and had dreams and aspirations for that aspect of my life. My career was a significant part of my life and realizing that it was not going as planned nor envisioned was extremely hard to accept.

The emotions of something you worked so hard for being stripped away and watching it slip away with nothing you can do to salvage it, is devastating. The death of a career still requires a person to go through the stages of grief. Law enforcement officers feel and know their purpose in life in their careers, so when it ends (either by regular or medical retirement), the adjustment and finding a new purpose in life is challenging.

Keep your eye on your brothers and sisters in blue, especially those injured in the line of duty, as over time they are forgotten, as life happens and things move on. They tend to feel as if they are a burden, and often slink into the darkened corners to try to cope and heal.

God Bless America!

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9

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