“They Felt Naked Without A Weapon”

Read excerpts from the Army report that shows a link between combat stress and murder

Editor’s note: Download the Army’s full report on homicides at Fort Carson here. Read about the Army’s spin on the report here.Read Salon’s Coming Home series about preventable deaths at Fort Carson here.
By Mark Benjamin

July 16, 2009 | Earlier this year, Salon published a multipart series called “Coming Home” exploring homicides and suicides among soldiers based at the Army’s Fort Carson who had returned from war. The Salon articles found that most of the soldiers were suffering the telltale symptoms of combat stress or post-traumatic stress disorder on their return from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Instead of receiving proper care, however, these soldiers were ridiculed, discouraged from seeking care, misdiagnosed and given handfuls of medication and not much else for their symptoms. Others self-medicated with alcohol or drugs. Salon also found that some soldiers had troubled pasts and probably should never have been in the Army in the first place.

A new Army investigation of homicides at Fort Carson, released at a press conference at the Colorado Army post today, confirms these findings. According to the 126-page report, researchers found “higher levels of combat intensity” among soldiers who later ended up in trouble (p. 8). They also found “a strong theme of soldiers using alcohol or drugs to self medicate” after returning from war (p. 13). The troops reported problems getting proper healthcare, ridicule for trying, and complained about “an over-reliance on pharmacotherapy” when they did access healthcare (p. 16). A significant number of the soldiers being studied also witnessed incidents described by the report as “War Crimes.”

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