Base Hit by Stress Disorder, Suicides

The Wall Street Journal
By Yochi J. Dreazen
November 6, 2009

Fort Hood, the base stricken in Thursday’s shooting rampage, is the largest U.S. military facility in the world — and a base that has a large share of the military’s overall instances of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide.

Army officials say that roughly 30,000 troops are stationed at the sprawling facility north of the Texas capital of Austin, while an additional 20,000 troops from the base are deployed to Iraq. Tens of thousands of military spouses and children live on the base and in adjacent suburbs. …

Since the start of the Afghan war in 2001, the base has lost hundreds of soldiers in combat. More alarmingly to many senior commanders there, the base has also lost at least 75 of its soldiers to suicide, one of the heaviest such tolls in the U.S. military. …

The base’s former commander, Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, used his tenure at the helm of the sprawling post to mount a broad campaign to reduce the incidence of PTSD and suicide among the soldiers on the post. …

Despite the efforts, however, Fort Hood continues to be hit hard by suicide, PTSD and other related problems. Through October, 10 Fort Hood soldiers had taken their lives in 2009, the second-highest tally in the Army behind Kentucky’s Fort Campbell, which had 16 suicides.

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