During the past weekend four soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas were found dead, and it appears that each of them took their own lives. All four soldiers were decorated veterans from the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan Christopher Haug, a Fort Hood spokesman, reported to CNN.
If the deaths are determined to be suicides, the total number of suicides on the base this year will rise to 18. Officials on the base called a news conference to discuss the problem.
General William Grimsley, the post commander, said â€œEvery one of these is tragic. Itâ€™s personally and professionally frustrating as a leader.â€
The recent deaths began on Friday Sept. 24 when the body of Private Antonio E. Heath, 24, was found in Temple, Texas. He was the victim of a gunshot wound. Heath had been deployed in Iraq for the majority of 2009 and recieved several medals.
On Saturday Sept. 25, Master Sgt. Baldemar Gonzales, 39, was found dead in his home on the base. Gonzalez had fought in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and had earned several medals as well. It is believed he had been wounded in service.
On that same day, the body of Sgt. Timothy Ryan Rinella, 29, was found in his home just outside Fort Hood. According to information released by the base, Rinella also had an â€œapparent gunshot wound.â€ Rinella had served three tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
Sunday Sept. 26, Sgt. Michael F. Franklin and his wife were found dead in their home on the base. They were both victims of gunshot wounds and authorities are investigating the case as a murder-suicide situation. They had a six-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. Franklin had served two tours of duty in Iraq and earned several decorations.
Military suicides are a major concern for the U.S., and the entire military system has focused strongly on trying to stop or reduce the number of suicides among service members.
There is a widely held belief that seeking help with mental or emotional problems is a taboo subject for members of the military. Gen. Grimsley said, however, â€œin at least two of the cases... a couple had been in counseling for certain things.â€ In addition he said the pace of Army operations, caused by fighting two wars at the same time over several years, is likely a stresser leading to more suicides.