A solider from Houston with extensive experience in the mental health field died Saturday while serving in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said.
Lt. Col. David E. Cabrera, 41, died less than a month after being deployed after a suicide bomb attack on the United Nations convoy he was riding with in Kabul, according to Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
Cabrera graduated from Sam Houston High School in 1988 and graduated from Texas A&M with a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1992. He then worked in family counseling and at different facilities in Giddings, Texas, and in Arlington, Texas.
In 1994, Cabrera earned his master's degree in social work from UT Arlington and then worked as a delinquency case management counselor for the state of Florida. He worked as a family therapist to underprivileged children and families in Palm Beach County.
Two years later, he joined the U.S. Army as a medical service corps officer and was deployed for nearly a year at the chief of Mental Health for Operation Joint Endeavor/Joint Guard in Hungary, Croatia and Bosnia. He later served as chief of the Family Advocacy Program at Wurzburg Army Hospital in Germany.
After his deployment, Cabrera served at a military prison in Fort Lewis, Wa., and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
In 2004, he entered a PhD program in social work at Catholic University and was later assigned to manage the behavioral health and combat operational stress programs for more than 4,500 soldiers at Fort Lewis.
After finishing his degree in 2006, Cabrera was deployed to Iraq for five months. He returned to Fort Lewis and was then transferred to Heidelberg, Germany, where he ran several mental health support programs.
In January 2010, he left Heidelberg to join the faculty of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., as the director of social work. There he saw patients, taught third- and fourth-year military medical students, conducted research in the fields of resilience, post-traumatic stress disorder and post-traumatic growth, and participated in a number of university field training exercises.
He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on Sept. 1, 2011, in a small ceremony at USU, surrounded by his family, friends and close colleagues.
"Lt. Col. Cabrera was a soldier's soldier. He was professionally happiest when in the field with his troops. His sense of service, love of God, family and country are an inspiration to us all," said Navy Capt. Dr. Mark Stephens, who was Cabrera's boss as chair of the USU Department of Family Medicine.
Sgt. James M. Darrough, 38, of Austin, was also killed in the same attack. Darrough was assigned to the 101st Finance Company, 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade and 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) out of Fort Campbell, Ky.
Sgt. Carlo F. Eugenio, 29, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Newman, 26, of Shelby, N.C., also died in the attack.