“I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."
Six days after Rick Higbie's daughter, Logan, was born, he swore his oath to the United States as a criminal investigator with the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
It was 1998 and Higbie — whose job was to protect State Department employees overseas and conduct criminal investigations — seemed to have it all. It didn't last long.
State Department whistleblower Rick Higbie with his wife Rochelle and daughter Logan in 2011, at an event in Texas to draw attention to their daughter's tuberous sclerosis, a genetic disorder that causes noncancerous growths on the brain, skin and other organs. (Photo courtesy Rick Higbie)
Shortly after his daughter was born, she was diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis, a rare, multi-system genetic disease that causes noncancerous tumors to grow on the brain, skin and other organs. In 2001, Higbie and his wife made the difficult choice to agree to have the entire frontal lobe of their toddler daughter's brain surgically removed to save her life. Logan's recovery was considered miraculous by doctors and family, Higbie told TheBlaze in his first-ever interview.
At the request of his attorneys, Higbie has chosen not to speak about details relating to his current lawsuit against the government. In its season premiere episode Wednesday night, TheBlaze TV's For the Record revealed how one man unraveled a culture of corruption inside the State Department, and detailed how allegations of pedophilia, underage prostitution and other forms of criminal behavior were covered up by those charged with the public trust, and how retaliation and intimidation were common place.
Higbie was not only fighting for Logan; he has endured a more than 15-year battle with his employers that he said has permanently affected his physical health. Despite the tribulation, however, he has not lost his spirit. In fact, he said, his faith in God was recovered during the most difficult time in his life.
"We call Logan our 'little miracle," Higbie said. "I'm a normal guy that's a hard worker and I take my oath of office seriously. I believe in choosing family first and that's what I did. I just hope the stories and media attention can help promote a better future for the State Department and the good people who work there and who want to do the right thing. I hope that it cleans itself up and forces the corrupt players to get out of there."
Higbie warned that it won't be easy, because senior State Department officials believe "that neither Congress or the executive branch will do anything to go after them. This is not a partisan issue. Crime does not chose partisanship."
Not only had the stress of nearly losing his daughter weighed on Higbie's heart, but the barrage of attacks from his supervisors wanting him to quit became so stressful that his own health suffered.
From December 2009 until January 12, 2010, Higbie was in and out of the hospital for stress-related medical issues.
In 2009, he had to have his thyroid removed when tumors associated with stress began to appear and affect his health. In 2010, he collapsed while doing yard work.
"I just keeled over and collapsed," he said.
Doctors found that Higbie's colon was so degraded that they had to remove 75 percent of it to save his life.
But in 2011, after returning to work from his surgery, the situation with his employers became almost unbearable.
They were going after "me while I was down and my body just couldn't take it anymore," Higbie said.
In April 2011 he collapsed again, this time while shopping with his family at Big Lots. It wasn't his colon this time, but his heart.
"We rushed to the emergency room and I was having severe cardiac arrhythmia," he said. "Then I had to go back into a leave status where I'm going through every heart test known to man."
What seemed like a curse was actually a blessing, Higbie said.
"That is the period of time was when I found my faith in God," he added. "I know God saved me and I knew I was blessed. Whenever you have an experience close to death it changes you dramatically. I've developed a very personal relationship with God that I can't even explain but I have found a way to give my burdens to Jesus."
But Higbie said he doesn't spend his days asking "Why me?" He believes the difficult circumstances surrounding his employment and even the love and strength his daughter has shown him have made him a better man.
"Being at the center of this storm is so hard to go through," Higbie said, pausing to compose himself. "The stress I can handle mentally now, because I just keep putting it on the altar and leaving it to God. But physiologically my body is falling apart."
It was when Higbie was at the hospital and his daughter, who came dangerously close to dying in March after suffering a massive seizure, sat by his side and held his hand. She put her "Strawberry Shortcake" pillow behind his head and wouldn't let anyone remove it, Higbie recalled.
"All I could think about who is going to take care of Logan and Rochelle," he said.
Coming close to losing his own life made Higbie realize that his family, particularly his daughter and his wife, Rochelle are the two most important people in this whole saga and they need his protection, he said.
"My biggest fear in life is that not being able to maintain my responsibility as a husband and father to two beautiful people who deserve better," he said. "I never thought after my first lawsuit that I would be under a second wave of attacks by my employers. No one would have ever believed that it would go to this level."
"But one thing I know, is that God is doing what Congress and the rest can't do and its because of my faith that I won't stop fighting," he said. "And I hope the American people don't either."
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