Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fort Drum soldier gets up to life for stabbing

WATERTOWN, N.Y. — A Fort Drum soldier who admitted stabbing two Army buddies to death at their apartment near their military post was sentenced Friday to 45 years to life in prison.

Spc. Joshua Hunter pleaded guilty last month to killing Waide James, 20, of Cocoa, Fla., and Diego Valbuena, 23, of Port Saint Lucie, Fla., in November at the duplex the three men shared near Fort Drum's main entrance.

Read the entire story by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Leaks Provide More Information about non-combat deaths

Leaked papers detail local war losses

The scene after a deadly attack on a Stryker left little hope that anyone would emerge from the obliterated infantry carrier

Read more:

More specific non-combat cases:  click here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Counting US Non-combat Deaths

Our website, Home of the Brave, at includes over 1,150 listings of military personnel killed from causes other than by enemy induced deaths in battle.  We have attempted to place each of these deaths into one of the following categories: 
·        Accident, including vehicle, helicopter, electrocution, etc.
·        Friendly Fire
·        Homicide
·        Natural causes, including illness, heat stroke, etc.
·        Self-inflicted, including suicide and presumed suicide
·        Under investigation
·        Generic “non-combat cause”
·        Non-hostile gunshot wound; non-combat weapons discharge
·        Overdose
There are many problems involved in creating and keeping such a list accurately.  The majority of the listings come from the official Department of Defense death announcements which come out shortly after the deaths occur.  We rely, initially, on the cause of death listed in these announcements as “non-combat related” or some similar designation.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of these official announcements leave the cause as the generic “non-combat cause” and most are also stated to be “Under investigation.”  The DoD does not officially update their announcements once these investigations are completed, so it is a large task to go back to each listing looking for updates in the press in order to place them into a proper category.  I’ve spent a lot of time doing this, slowly updating causes of death and trying to make sure the sources are accurate.  In the past year or so, every single Marine death is announced as “died during combat operations”, which obviously skirts the cause of death.
I am quite aware that these listings are not all inclusive.  I often come across media reports of the deaths of active duty military personnel on domestic military bases or off-base which are carried only in the local media outlets.  These are added to the listings as I come across them.  Occasionally, there are wonderful people who email me listings to add or corrections of the existing lists.
Sometimes, like right now, I read books which enlighten me with historical accounts of battles in which long lists of friendly fire deaths are revealed.  I am reading Where Men Win Glory, by Jon Krakauer, a book ostensibly about Pat Tillman’s death by “friendly fire”, but packed with well-researched and documented accounts of the first days of the Iraq invasion.   I do not know why I have not been made aware of the large number of total screw ups from the day on which Jessica Lynch’s convoy mistakenly took a wrong turn to Nasiriyah prior to the first day of battle on March 23, 2003, when 29 Marines and other military personnel were killed – the majority by the horribly named, “friendly fire.” ( It would seem that we Americans are so self-reliant that we don’t need no stinkin’ enemy – we are perfectly capable of killing our own.)
The relationship of this knowledge with the problem of counting has directly to do with the misinformation fed to the media by our own government.  Initial reports of these battles, even a year later when the complete investigation was done, assigned none of the deaths to friendly fire, and yet troops on the ground were actually bombed by US planes and helicopters.  The fact that those killed were engaged in what they thought was battle with the enemy adds to the confusion in categorization.  Typically, both cockpit videotapes were mysteriously “lost” shortly after they were reviewed by officials.
An alternate story, which can still be found on some entries at the Washington Post site listing casualties is “Ambushed in Nasiriyah by Iraqi soldiers who pretended to surrender, then opened fire when the Marines approached.”  This, also, has been proven to be a fabrication.  These soldiers were also most likely killed by friendly fire.  A relatively small number of US Marines were actually killed by Iraqis on March 23, 2003.
I would remind the reader of the preposterous stories fed to the press about the Jessica Lynch “rescue” from an Iraqi hospital where she was reported to have been not only shot while shooting back, but also raped and tortured.  By now, all should be aware that this was a total fabrication.  Her own testimony in one of the Tillman hearings confirms that her weapon was jammed and that she did not fire a single round.  She was well treated in an Iraqi hospital and there was little resistance when US troops came for her.  Nevertheless, video was produced which would lead one to believe that this was a dangerous mission.
Then, there is the cover up of Pat Tillman’s death, with the various politically advantageous tall tales told before the Army was finally forced to admit that he was killed by members of his own platoon.  To this date, his family is still trying to get the whole truth.
The 1994 “friendly fire” attack of a Black Hawk Helicopter flying over Iraq killed Lt. Laura Piper and 25 other people.  Her mother has written a book, A Chain of Events, which exposes the cover up of the incident by the US Air Force.
Since my own son’s death included one of these totally fabricated stories by unnamed Military sources, this pattern of deception by our own government is particularly disturbing to me.
Still, the American public believes what it wants to believe, despite massive evidence proving that we are being lied to on a regular basis about how our military members are killed.
So, I am now confirming the names and causes of death of the military personnel named in Krakauer’s book.  There were also names and descriptions of soldiers killed in non-combat death situations in the book Black Hearts, by Jim Frederick which await confirmation and addition to our lists.  I am likely to come across other sources.
Homicides within the military have only recently begun to be reported publicly.  Suicides, which may in fact be murders staged to look like suicides, are usually not properly investigated, so although families dispute the official cause of death frequently, there is no way of accurately counting suicides vs. homicides in a military setting.
One of the additional problems with keeping this list, is that families are sometimes convinced that a non-combat death is somehow less honorable than a combat death.  I’ve heard people say that they wish their loved one had been killed in combat…  So, some causes of death are purposely not revealed for that reason.
We will probably never know the accurate, comprehensive number of non-combat deaths in the current conflicts, let alone domestically.  Our lists are only an attempt to get an idea of just how many of our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen are killed in non-combat incidents while on active duty.  There are others who have begun to investigate similar deaths occurring shortly after discharge from the military services which are coming up with alarming numbers.
Donna Janeczko 

Army Releases September Suicide Data

            The Army released suicide data today for the month of September.  Among active-duty soldiers, there were 18 potential suicides:  none have been confirmed as suicides, and all 18 remain under investigation.  For August, the Army reported 13 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers.  Since the release of that report, seven have been confirmed as suicides, and six remain under investigation.

            During September 2010, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were eight potential suicides.  For August, among that same group, there were 11 total suicides.  Of those, four were confirmed as suicides and seven are pending determination of the manner of death.

           To read the entire Department of Defense release, click here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

War’s Hidden Death Toll: After Service, Veteran Deaths & Suicides Surge

Link to the article in The New York Times Click here

Combat Stress Driving Up Army Crime, Drug Abuse, Suicides

by David Wood
Chief Military Correspondent
Politics Daily

The U.S. Army, under the accumulating stress of nine years at war, is suffering an alarming spurt of drug abuse, crime and suicide that is going unchecked, according to an internal study that depicts an Army in crisis.

A small but growing number of soldiers who perform credibly in combat turn to high-risk behavior, including drug abuse, drunken driving, motorcycle street-racing, petty crime and domestic violence, once they return home.

As a result, more soldiers are dying by drug overdose, accident, murder and suicide than in combat. Suicide is now the third-leading cause of death for soldiers.

Read the entire story by clicking here.

--submitted by Bonnie Palecco

Friday, October 15, 2010

Seven Arrested In Army Death Inquiry

Irina Hovannisian

One officer and six soldiers have been arrested in connection with the latest non-combat death in the Armenian army ranks, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

A ministry statement said they are suspected of systematically beating and humiliating Samvel Khachatrian, a 18-year-old army conscript who was founded hanged in the basement of his military unit on October 3. It added that they are facing criminal charges that carry between three and eight years’ imprisonment.

Read the entire story by clicking here.

Are We Giving Our Soldiers Drugs That May Make Them Kill Themselves?

More soldiers than ever are on drugs that have been linked to suicide and violent behavior.
In 2009 there were 160 active duty suicides, 239 suicides within the total Army including the Reserves, 146 active duty deaths from drug overdoses and high risk behavior and 1,713 suicide attempts. In addition to suicide, other out-of-character behavior like domestic violence is known to erupt from the drugs.
Read the entire story by clicking here.

--submitted by Lois Vanderbur

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Soldier Suicides And The Dumbing Down Of Military Mental Health Care

by Scott Mendelson, M.D.

Another sad story in the press. There have been four more suicides at Fort Hood, Texas. Military suicide numbers keep climbing. The rates of depression, PTSD and suicide are reaching startling proportions among soldiers and veterans. New programs begun by the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration are said to be designed to expand mental health care, and to make it more effective, palatable, and accessible to soldiers and veterans. They don't. As a psychiatrist employed by the VA who sees these broken soldiers on a daily basis, I find it infuriating and heartbreaking.

The new Mental Health programs, referred to by the Department of Defense as the acronym RESPECT-mil, and by the Veterans Administration as TIDES, are based on the Hamburger Helper model of health care. That is, if real care is too expensive, then dilute it with cheap care, fluff it up, advertise it well and make it look there is more there than there actually is. This brilliant new idea of the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense is intended to direct the psychiatric care of patients away from the people actually trained to provide this care, i.e., psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and psychiatric nurse practitioners, and to place their care in the hands of less expensive people with weeks rather than years of training in mental health. This perspective includes the notion that mental health care is best provided away from stigma in the primary care setting, and that soldiers can be managed by primary care doctors helped by nurses with eight weekends of training to become what are called, "Champions."

To read the rest of the story, click here.
Source: The Huffington Post

Monday, October 04, 2010

Former San Antonio XO opts for court-martial

The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Oct 1, 2010 10:00:38 EDT

NORFOLK, Va. — The former second-in-command aboard a Norfolk-based amphibious transport dock ship is seeking a court-martial on a charge he was negligent in the death of a sailor.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that an attorney for Lt. Cmdr. Sean D. Kearns has signaled his intention to put on trial a problem-plagued ship for the Feb. 4, 2009, death.

The $1.8 billion San Antonio was in the Gulf of Aden when three sailors fell into the water off the coast of Africa while an inflatable vessel was being lowered from the ship. Two sailors were rescued, but the body of a 34-year-old engineman first class was never found.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Joint Chiefs chairman warns of rise in military suicides

By Bryan Bender
Globe Staff / September 30, 2010

WASHINGTON — The nation’s top military officer said yesterday that he expects suicides by service members, already alarmingly high, and other family crises to increase in the coming months as large numbers of troops return to their bases after years of multiple deployments.

“I think we are going to see a significant increase in the challenges that we have in terms of our families,’’ Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

To read the rest of the story, click here.
--submitted by Dominic Baragona