Thursday, September 30, 2010

National Guard and Reserve suicide rates climbing

McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON -- Suicides among Army and Air National Guard and Reserve troops have spiked this year, and the military is at a loss to explain why.

Sixty-five members of the Guard and Reserve took their own lives during the first six months of 2010, compared with 42 for the same period in 2009. The grim tally is further evidence that suicides continue to plague the military even though it's stepped up prevention efforts through counseling and mental health awareness programs.

"Suicides among military personnel and veterans are at an epidemic rate, and it's getting worse," said Tim Embree, a former Marine who served two tours in Iraq and is now a legislative associate for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group.

The Army recently announced that 32 soldiers, including 11 in the Guard and Reserve, took their own lives in June, a rate of one a day and a level not seen since the Vietnam War, according to the military.

Seven of the suicides occurred in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The worrisome trend is reflected in Missouri, where the state Army and Air National Guards have suffered six suicides so far this year, their highest total in a decade.

They account for nearly a quarter of the 27 suicides experienced since the Missouri Guard started keeping records in 2001.

"We're all devastated," said Col. Gary Gilmore, joint force chaplain for the Missouri Guard. "From their battle buddy right next to them all the way up the chain, each one has a tremendous personal impact and sense of loss."

Read more.

-- submitted by Patti Woodard

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rash of Suicides at Ft. Hood

FORT HOOD - Fort Hood officials are investigating a rash of suicides in recent days, including the apparent murder-suicide of a soldier and his wife.

The incidents come as the central Texas Army post reports a record number of soldiers taking their own lives. According to figures released Tuesday, 14 suicides and six more suspected suicides have been reported so far this year among soldiers stationed at Fort Hood. Fort Hood reported 11 suicides in all of 2009.

"It is frustrating that so many Fort Hood Soldiers have decided to take their own lives," Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, Fort Hood senior commander, said. "Leaders at all levels remain deeply concerned about this trend and are looking for innovative ways to better support Soldiers and their families to reverse this pattern. Too many of our Soldiers are seeking a permanent solution to a temporary problem."

To read the rest of the story, click here.
--submitted by Perry Monroe

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

US Soldier Held In Iraq Over Colleagues' Deaths

(RTTNews) - A U.S. soldier has been detained in connection with the death of two of his colleagues in a non-combat shooting incident in Iraq last week, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.

According to the U.S. military command in Baghdad, Spc. Neftaly Platero is currently under "pre-trial confinement" in connection with the deaths of his comrades in a shooting incident that took place last Thursday in Fallujah, some 40 miles west of the Iraqi capital.

The killed soldiers were identified as Spc. John Carrillo Jr., 20, of Stockton, California, and Pfc. Gebrah P. Noonan, 26, of Watertown, Connecticut. Both died on Friday due to injuries sustained in the shooting incident.

To read the entire story, click here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Family wants GI’s suicide re-examined

By Jerry Mitchell - The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger
Posted : Sunday Sep 19, 2010 14:22:59 EDT

JACKSON, Miss. — Jared Hillman had been back from Iraq only a few weeks when his family found him dead in the woods, a .40-caliber pistol still in his hands.

Authorities chalked up the death on Aug. 9, 2009, of this 23-year-old Army specialist in Hickory as one of 309 military suicides last year.

But the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is now investigating whether foul play was involved.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

Soldier's father: Army was warned of murder plot

The Associated Press
Thursday, September 9, 2010; 8:02 PM

SEATTLE -- The father of a U.S. soldier serving in Afghanistan says he tried nearly a half dozen times to pass an urgent message from his son to the Army: Troops in his unit had murdered an Afghan civilian, planned more killings and threatened him to keep quiet about it.

By the time officials arrested suspects months later, two more Afghans were dead.

And much to Christopher Winfield's horror, his son Adam was among the five Fort Lewis-based soldiers charged in the killings.

Read the entire story in The Washington Post by clicking here.

Editor's note: I can confirm that some of us parents have had similar experiences with the DOD Hotline and CIC as those related in the body of the article.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Army Releases August Suicide Data

The Army released suicide data today for the month of August 2010. Among active-duty soldiers, there were 13 potential suicides: none have been confirmed as suicides, and all 13 remain under investigation. For July, the Army reported 12 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers. Since the release of that report, five have been confirmed as suicides, and seven remain under investigation.

During August, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were 10 potential suicides. For July, among that same group, there were 16 total suicides. Of those, eight were confirmed as suicides and eight are pending determination of the manner of death.

"With the release of the Army Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention Report in July, the Army has transitioned suicide prevention efforts to the Health Promotion, Risk Reduction Council and Task Force. These two elements will help analyze, shape and implement the more than 240 additional changes to Army policy, procedure and processes recommended in the report," said Col. Chris Philbrick, deputy director of the Army Health Promotion, Risk Reduction Council and Task Force.

"Our efforts continue to evolve as we learn more about the multiple factors contributing to suicides and high-risk behavior within our Army family. The end state remains the ability to provide our soldiers, civilians and families with the quality care and support they need and deserve," Philbrick said.

Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance can contact Military OneSource or the Defense Center of Excellence (DCoE) for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach Center. Trained consultants are available from both organizations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.

The Military OneSource toll-free number for those residing in the continental United States is 1-800-342-9647; their Web site address is . Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource Web site for dialing instructions for their specific location.

The Army's comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at .

Army leaders can access current health promotion guidance in newly revised Army Regulation 600-63 (Health Promotion) at: and Army Pamphlet 600-24 (Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention) at .

Suicide prevention training resources for Army families can be accessed at (requires Army Knowledge Online access to download materials).

The DCoE Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, via electronic mail at and at .

Information about the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at .

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: .

Suicide Prevention Resource Council: .

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Soldier who Killed Herself After Refusing to Take Part in Torture

by Greg Mitchell in the Huffington Post

With each revelation, or court decision, on U.S. torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gitmo -- or the airing this month of The Tillman Story and Lawrence Wright's My Trip to Al-Qaeda -- I am reminded of the chilling story of Alyssa Peterson, who died seven years ago today. Appalled when ordered to take part in interrogations that, no doubt, involved what most would call torture, she refused, then killed herself a few days later, on September 15, 2003.

Read the story by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Drum soldier admits killing 2 roommates

WATERTOWN, N.Y. — A Fort Drum military policeman admitted stabbing to death two Army buddies at their apartment near the northern New York military post and will be sentenced to 45 years to life in prison.

To read the story, click here.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

US Soldiers 'Killed Afghan Civilians for Sport and Collected Fingers as Trophies'

Published on Thursday, September 9, 2010 by The Guardian/UK
Soldiers face charges over secret 'kill team' which allegedly murdered at random and collected fingers as trophies of war
by Chris McGreal

Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret "kill team" that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies.

To read the entire story, click here.
Editor's note: I've reprinted this story for those who find it hard to believe that soldiers are capable of murder and for those who find it hard to believe that soldiers would beat up (and possibly murder) another soldier who has reported wrongdoing. My own son was killed after being beaten up and harassed repeatedly for reporting illegal activity in the Army. The cover up in his case continues. This story allows the light of day to shine in on this rotten little secret kept by the Military Services for some twisted reason.

Rx for Death: Troop Deaths Soar with Prescriptions for War Wounded

Source: The Military Times
By Andrew Tilghman and Brendan McGarry - Staff writers
Posted : Tuesday Sep 7, 2010 15:57:18 EDT

It happens on average once every five days — an active-duty service member is found dead from an accidental drug or alcohol overdose.

And the number has roughly tripled since 2001, a Military Times investigation has found.

The fatalities, mostly involving prescription medications, come at a time when military prescription drug use is soaring. Many troops are taking multiple drugs simultaneously. Orders for common pain and psychiatric medications nearly doubled from 2001 through 2009, according to Defense Logistics Agency data. And the Army on July 29 reported that the amount of stimulants prescribed to soldiers more than doubled from fiscal 2006 through 2009.

Death records show the military reported at least 68 accidental drug deaths in 2009, up from 24 in 2001. In total, at least 430 troops have died from drug use — or, in a small number of cases, alcohol use - during the past decade.

Read the story by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Armenia: Army Non-Combat Deaths Prompt Calls for Reform

September 7, 2010 - 2:55pm, by Gayane Abrahamyan

After the deaths of seven soldiers this summer in non-combat-related shootings, public pressure for reform is coming to bear on one of Armenia’s most closed institutions -- its armed forces.

Reports of physical abuse and suicides in the Armenian army are not new. Such incidents are in part connected to a tradition of hazing, known as dedovshchina, which was practiced in the Soviet Army before Armenia regained independence in 1991. But Armenia’s army in the past month-and-a-half has undergone a greater number of non-combat-related shooting deaths than at any time since the Soviet Union’s collapse. The shootings have focused public attention on the military abuse issue.

On July 28, a conscript stationed in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh shot dead two lieutenants and three privates before killing himself. Less than a month later, on August 17, the process repeated itself when 26-year-old Junior Sergeant Haroutiun Vardanian shot dead a fellow non-commissioned officer, 44-year-old Junior Sergeant Arsen Chobanian. Vardanian was arrested and charged with premeditated murder.

Read the entire story by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

First US "Non-combat" Troops Killed in Combat Since "End of Combat Operations" Declared in Iraq

Published on Tuesday, September 7, 2010 by Agence France Presse

Two US troops gunned down by Iraqi comrade after sports row

BAGHDAD – Two American soldiers were killed on Tuesday when an Iraqi army comrade opened fire after an argument over a sports match, the first US deaths since Washington declared an end to combat operations here.

The shooting, which also left nine American soldiers wounded, happened at the Iraq's Al-Saadiq Air Base near the city of Tuz Khurmatu in Salaheddin province while a US army company was visiting local security forces.

"Iraqi soldiers and American military advisers were playing sports when a quarrel broke out between an Iraqi soldier and an American," defence ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari told AFP.

"The Iraqi soldier opened fire on them," Askari said, naming the gunman as Soran Rahman Saleh Wali.

"The American soldiers killed the Iraqi soldier. We have opened a high-level investigation into this issue."

A US military statement said: "Eleven US soldiers were engaged with small arms fire, killing two and wounding nine, inside an Iraqi army commando compound."

The gunman was a member of one of the army's elite special forces units, said Colonel Hussein Bayati, police commander for Tuz Khurmatu, north of Baghdad.

There were no details on what set off the argument or on the Iraqi soldier's possible motives.

However, Bayati said that on Monday, US and Iraqi forces "began searching houses in the neighbourhood where this soldier was from because they suspected Ansar al-Sunna (insurgent) fighters were hiding there."

It was unclear whether Wali might have already been under surveillance or if the sweep had angered him.

The shooter's family declined to speak to AFP.

US forces said the incident occurred at around 3:50 pm (1250 GMT), and that the condition of the wounded, who were evacuated to Joint Base Balad north of Baghdad, could not be confirmed.

It said the names of the killed would be released after their families were informed.

Under the terms of a bilateral security pact, American soldiers are allowed to return fire in self-defence, and take part in operations if requested by their Iraqi counterparts.

The deaths were the first American military fatalities in Iraq since the US declared an end to its combat mission in Iraq on September 1, transforming its role to what it has described as "advise and assist" operations

"This is a tragic and cowardly act, which I firmly believe was an isolated incident and is certainly not reflective of the Iraqi security forces in Salaheddin," said Major General Tony Cuculo, US commander in northern Iraq.

Tuesday's violence brought to 4,418 the total number of US soldiers who have died in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, according to an AFP tally based on independent website

The shooting comes just two days after American troops helped repel a coordinated suicide attack on an Iraqi army complex in Baghdad by providing "suppressive fire" to give cover to local forces as they stormed a building in which the insurgents had hidden.

The attack, which killed 12 people, occurred in the morning at Rusafa military command headquarters, in the centre of the capital, when six suicide bombers assaulted the compound in a minibus.

Nearly 50,000 US troops remain stationed in Iraq. Last week, US Vice President Joe Biden launched the new mission while visiting Baghdad, opening a fresh phase in a seven-year deployment.

© 2010 Agence France Presse