August 29, 2012
Last week Thursday, a Hawaiʻi sailor was arrested after a standoff with a shotgun. He was arrested on suspicion of four counts of terroristic threatening and two counts of firearms offenses. The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported “Navy sailor armed with shotgun arrested after standoff in Moanalua Terrace” (August 23, 2012):
A 22-year-old Pearl Harbor sailor armed with a shotgun surrendered to police at about 12:45 p.m. Thursday, ending a barricade situation at his home in Moanalua Terrace Navy Housing.
The Navy petty officer arrived home just before noon and allegedly threatened the people there — his wife and at least two other women and two to three babies, Honolulu police Maj. William Chur said.
The man’s wife remained inside while the other women picked up the children and ran out, Chur said.
Associated Press “Pearl Harbor sailor ends standoff, surrenders” (August 24, 2012), reported:
A 22-year-old Hawaii sailor was taken into custody after a standoff that required evacuating homes at Moanalua Terrace Navy Housing.
Police say the Pearl Harbor sailor was armed with a shotgun when he arrived home Wednesday afternoon and threatened his wife, along with other women and babies inside.
Today, the AP also reports that the sailor will not be prosecuted.
But according to Hawaii News Now “Hostage Stand-off Ends Peacefully” (August 28, 2012), the sailor was suffering from depression after a second deployment. Is it another case of post traumatic syndrome disorder (PTSD), the human and social costs of war?:
The 22-year-old new mother asked Hawaii News Now not to reveal her last name. She says her husband has struggled with major depression since returning home from his second deployment. “He came in with the gun and said this is no way to live and that I should say good-bye to him and just let him do it,” she said.
Staying calm enough to talk her husband down from his distressed mental state, she helped police resolve the situation without anyone getting hurt. “He’s really been struggling with isolation, major sadness and loss of interest in things he normally loves, “said the navy sailor’s wife.
January 20, 2012
The social and human costs of U.S. wars and military policies are coming due. The New York Times reported that “Active-Duty Soldiers Take Their Own Lives at Record Rate”:
Suicides among active-duty soldiers hit another record high in 2011, Army officials said on Thursday, although there was a slight decrease if nonmobilized Reserve and National Guard troops were included in the calculation.
The Army also reported a sharp increase, nearly 30 percent, in violent sex crimes last year by active-duty troops. More than half of the victims were active-duty female soldiers ages 18 to 21.
January 7, 2012
Here is a sampling of recent news stories related to crimes and accidents involving military personnel.
The city Medical Examiner’s Office today identified the 27-year-old Schofield Barracks soldier who died in a motorcycle accident Thursday as Aaron Bennett.
Bennett, from Parma Heights Ohio, died at the crash scene on Fort Weaver Road near the recently closed Hawaii Medical Center-West. Witnesses told police that he was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic before losing control and crashing at about 5:30 a.m.
Bennett was an Army sergeant who joined the service in January 2007, and served as an infantrymen assigned to 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, according to the Army.
In June, he finished a year-long deployment to Iraq with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, where he was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, an Army Commendation Medal and the Iraqi Campaign Medal with two campaign stars for his service.
The 2009 Yamaha motorcycle he was driving apparently sideswiped a 2001 Nissan sedan near the Farrington Highway junction, causing the motorcyclist to lose control, police said.
Bennett, a 25th Infantry Division soldier, was thrown from the vehicle and slid about 30 feet into a guardrail, severing his arm.
A 27-year-old Schofield man was found dead in a Wahiawa Police Substation holding cell from an apparent suicide Saturday morning.The man was arrested around 4:10 Saturday morning for drunk driving, reckless driving and speeding near Kamehameha Highway and Whitemore Avenue.He was then booked and processed at the Wahiawa Substation. His body was found alone and unconscious in the holding cell around 7 a.m. with his t-shirt next to him. It is believed that he hung himself with the shirt.[...]Police say the man is a husband of a Schofield based soldier.
In San Diego, four people were killed in an apparent murder-suicide involving two Navy pilots and the sister of one of the pilots. The AP reported “2 Navy Pilots Among Dead in Murder, Suicide” (1/03/2012):
Two Navy pilots and the sister of one of them were among four people killed in an apparent New Years Day murder-suicide on the wealthy island of Coronado off the coast of San Diego, officials say.
The two F/A-18 pilots were in training at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, the base said. The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office initially posted on its website that the pilots were both 25-year-old males and that a third male among the dead was a 31-year-old resident of nearby Chula Vista.
The AP also reported that “Jealousy Eyed for Possible Role in Murder-Suicide” (1/06/2012):
Authorities were looking at all aspects of what could have led up to the gunfire at a Coronado condominium, including whether there was a relationship or romantic feelings between the Navy pilot who committed suicide and the sister of the other pilot who died, sheriff’s Capt. Duncan Fraser said.
John Robert Reeves shot himself in the head, and the three other people with him, including the sister, were murdered. They included Navy pilot David Reis, Karen Reis and Matthew Saturley.
Retired Naval pilot Steve Diamond said the case is shocking because it involves such high achievers.
“The first thing that most people think of even within the Navy community is how could such an enormously tragic thing happen involving people … who are the cream of the crop, highly trained, highly educated, national assets basically,” he said.
It takes years of training to get one’s wings as a Navy pilot, and fighter-jet pilots are considered to be among the top in that group.
They undergo a battery of rigorous physical, psychological and background tests before finishing the highly competitive program. Their top-notch skills and mental toughness were featured in the movie “Top Gun” — parts of which were filmed at Miramar.
A Navy ship commander pleaded guilty Friday to sexual assault and rape of two female sailors, and a military judge ordered his dismissal and sentenced him to more than three years in prison.
Cmdr. Jay Wylie was given a 10-year term but will serve 42 months as part of a plea agreement, said Sheila Murray, Navy spokeswoman.
Twenty officers have been relieved of command by the Navy this year.
It seems that the epidemic of sexual violence begins in officer training school. The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that “3 Air Force Academy Cadets Charged in Sex-Assault Cases” (1/06/2012):
Commanders on Thursday charged three Air Force Academy cadets with sexual assault in separate cases that occurred over the past 15 months.
Charging documents obtained by The Gazette show the three cases involve acts allegedly committed on the campus, including acts against fellow cadets.
A congressman says two 2.5-pound blocks of a powerful, military-grade explosive were found in a Soldier’s luggage at a West Texas airport. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway of Midland said Thursday that federal officials gave him details of the Saturday find in Trey Scott Atwater’s luggage at Midland International Airport.
And the Daily Press in Victorville, California reported in December “Military Weapons in Gangsters’ Hands” (12/05/2011):
Gangs are acquiring highpowered, military-grade weapons more frequently, according to the latest National Gang Intelligence Center Report. And FBI and law enforcement officials suggest gang members — both enlisted and those working at military bases as contract civilians — may be funneling the firearms to their street-level counterparts.
In late July, 27 AK-47s were stolen from a Fort Irwin warehouse, officials said.
Weapons getting loose could be really bad. In San Diego, the AP reported “Police: Navy SEAL Accidentally Shoots Self in Head” (1/06/2012):
San Diego police say a Navy SEAL is on life support after accidentally shooting himself in the head.
Officer Frank Cali tells U-T San Diego that officers were called to a home in Pacific Beach early Thursday morning on a report that a man had been playing with a gun and accidentally shot himself.
Cali says the man was showing guns to a woman he’d met earlier at a bar and put a pistol he believed was unloaded to his head. Cali says he then pulled the trigger.
December 21, 2011
The Washington Post reported that eight U.S. soldiers have been charged with crimes related to the October 3 death of a fellow soldier who apparently committed suicide. This is the second Asian American military personnel in recent months who allegedly committed suicide after abusive treatment by fellow GIs. It appears that there were racial elements to the this recent incident. In the earlier incident, Kane’ohe Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Harry Lew also committed suicide after hazing by comrades. Several Marines face courts martial for their hazing of Lew. Chen’s death comes at a time when the U.S. military is facing an epidemic of suicides in the ranks:
Eight American soldiers deployed in Afghanistan have been charged in connection with the Oct. 3 death of a comrade who apparently committed suicide in a guard tower, U.S. military officials said Wednesday.
Pvt. Danny Chen, 19, an infantryman, died from an “apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound” at a small combat outpost in Kandahar province, according to a statement issued by the NATO command in southern Afghanistan.
A military official told Chen’s parents that fellow soldiers had been physically abusive toward Chen, and taunted him with ethnic slurs, the New York Times reported in October.
September 11, 2011
Winston Ross wrote an eye-opening article in The Daily Beast about the human cost of America’s wars on the troops and their families:
The list of suicides, murders and other violence at this base is staggering:
Back when Jonathan Gilbert was still in middle school, he attended his cousin’s graduation ceremony from the U.S. Army’s basic training, watching men in neatly pressed uniforms marching, saluting one another, and smiling.
“That was it for him,” Gilbert’s mother, Karrie Champion, tells The Daily Beast. “He knew what he wanted to do. He enlisted before he was out of high school.”
The boy had no idea what he was getting into—that he’d wind up in Iraq, driving a Stryker, watching the unit in the caravan ahead of him roll off a bridge and land upside down. Two soldiers were killed, one of them decapitated. Nineteen-year-old Jonathan helped clean up the body parts.
This event and his upcoming redeployment, Gilbert’s mom believes, is what led her son to kill himself on July 28 at the age of 21, forcing a pistol to his head and pulling the trigger after a violent struggle with a fellow soldier who apparently tried to stop him. It was the 11th “suspicious death” (the Army has yet to officially declare any of them suicides) of a soldier stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord this year. Assuming they’re all ruled suicides, that tops the previous record set the year before, of nine. The year before that, there were nine suicides, too.
Champion, along with a growing legion of modern-day war veterans and their families, says it’s long past time the Army took notice of a tragic, preventable epidemic—one that seems especially acute at Lewis-McChord.
The jarring incidents include one of the soldiers Carter served with: Sheldon Plummer, sentenced to 14 years in prison last August for murdering his wife and stuffing her body into a storage crate after his return from a third deployment in Iraq. Another incident involved an Iraq and Afghanistan soldier who allegedly set fire to his wife, and yet another soldier was convicted of waterboarding his own daughter because she didn’t know her ABCs. The Afghan kill team, which came to symbolize wanton military violence after a three-month killing spree perpetrated against innocent Afghan civilians, was from Lewis-McChord too.
But what Champion and Carter are focused on now are all those presumed suicides—among them, the recent death of an Army ranger whose wife says he killed himself to avoid a ninth deployment.
A statement by Ashley Joppa-Hagemann about how the war drove her husband to committed suicide, provides a clue to how to understand epidemic of PTSD and suicides: “He said the things he had seen and done, no God would have forgiven him.”
In a recent conversation with a friend who is a brilliant scholar, activist and theologian, we discussed how the PTSD afflicting many GIs is actually a sign of their humanity, and hope. When good people do evil things as part of a group, the spiritual and moral contradiction can become too great a burden to bear, especially when there is no room in their organization to question or criticize the morality of what they have done. Unfortunately, it seems that most PTSD ‘treatment’ is oriented to helping troops adjust and cope, but does not challenge the morality and legality of their mission. It is precisely in the moral conflict experienced by many of the troops with PTSD that we might help them to redeem their humanity. Prevent suicides by ending the wars and the military cult of violence.
September 10, 2011
The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports that the hearing about the hazing and subsequent suicide of Lance Cpl. Harry Lew may have had racial overtones. Lew was Chinese American:
Hazing and race in the Marine Corps were focused on Friday as a hearing at Marine Corps Base Hawaii continued to examine the suicide death of Lance Cpl. Harry Lew in Afghanistan and whether three Marines should be punished for their actions leading up to it.
The 21-year-old from Santa Clara, Calif., was on his first combat deployment when he was subjected to a series of physical tasks, had sand dumped on his face, and was kicked and punched in the helmet after falling asleep on guard duty for the fourth time at an austere patrol base, according to an investigation.
Investigating officer Lt. Col. Douglas Gardner, the judge in the case, repeatedly asked witnesses whether Lew’s Asian-American background was the subject of comments.
Navy corpsman Bruce Lara, who is of Asian descent and served with Lew at PB Gowragi, said racial jokes did bother Lew to a small degree, but that there was equal treatment of all ethnicities in Marines’ jokes.
It turns out that Lew was related to some powerful people:
A House Armed Services hearing Friday on the status of suicide prevention programs in the military gave leaders from the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps a chance to answer lawmakers’ questions about identifying service members at risk and other steps they are taking to stop suicides. The military witnesses highlighted their efforts and described how services members often “dance with some dragons,” which was how Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Milstead Jr., put it.
Toward the end of the hourlong session, California Rep. Judy Chu talked about the life and death of Lew.
He was her nephew.
On August 18, the Everett Herald reported:
Since the first of July, five soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord have died in apparent suicides, part of an Army-wide upsurge in such deaths despite stepped-up prevention efforts.
Democracy Now! interviewed Ashley Joppa-Hagemann, the widow of 25-year-old Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann, who committed suicide on June 28, 2011, ahead of his eighth redeployment to Iraq & Afghanistan. She confronted former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday about his role in inspiring her husband to enlist after 9/11.
Troop suicides are at an all time high, and the military does not know what to do. Well, they can start by ending the illegal and immoral wars.
August 24, 2011
Marine Times reports:
One Marine faces court-martial and another faces non-judicial punishment for allegedly hazing a lance corporal who killed himself in Afghanistan, according to a military investigation report obtained by Marine Corps Times.
Lance Cpl. Harry Lew, 21, killed himself with a two- or three-round burst from an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon early April 3, according to a Marine Corps investigation. He was hazed that night by two other lance corporals in 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, who were angry he had fallen asleep several times while manning a guard post, the report said.
NBC Bay Area reports:
An investigation into the 21-year-old’s April death says Lew “leaned over his M249 squad automatic weapon as it pointed to the sky, placed the muzzle in his mouth and pulled the trigger.”
Lew wrote on his arm: ”may hate me now, but in the long run this was the right choice I’m sorry my mom deserves the truth.”
This violence and suicide is tragic enough, but look at some comments on the Marine Times article. They cheer the torture of Lew and his subsequent suicide, revealing a disturbing psychopathic culture of violence within some military circles:
May 29, 2011
A 19-year-old Marine stationed at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneʻohe Bay fell from a Waikiki hotel Saturday morning and died from his injuries. The Honolulu Star Advertiser identified the man as Private 1st Class Luke Monahan, 19, of Palos Verdes, California. The newspaper reports “Monahan joined the Marines at the age of 18 and was sent to Marine Corps Base Hawaii in January.”
Police said there were no signs of foul play.
But could this have been a suicide?
March 18, 2011
The March 4, 2011 suicide by Schofield Barracks soldier Pvt. Galina M. Klippelunderscores the high human cost of militarization and war on our families and communities. The rate of suicide by female soldiers is three times higher when they go to war. As Col. Ann Wright says “Reasons for never starting these wars!!!”
Female soldiers’ suicide rate triples when at war
By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
The suicide rate for female soldiers triples when they go to war, according to the first round of preliminary data from an Army study.
The findings, released to USA TODAY this week, show that the suicide rate rises from five per 100,000 to 15 per 100,000 among female soldiers at war. Scientists are not sure why but say they will look into whether women feel isolated in a male-dominated war zone or suffer greater anxieties about leaving behind children and other loved ones.
Even so, the suicide risk for female soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan is still lower than for men serving next to them, the $50 million study says.
Findings also show that marriage somehow helps inoculate male and female soldiers from killing themselves while they are overseas. Although these death rates among GI’s who are single or divorced double when they go to war, the rate among married soldiers does not increase, according to the study.
March 10, 2011
The following information about the suicide of Pvt. Galina Klippel has not been verified. A commenter named Bearcat357 wrote on a forum at officer.com:
Media article sucks……and was just told I could post this…..
Female Solider going through divorce was hopped up on pills/booze…..barricades herself in vehicle…. MPs/DOA Police arrive and shut the area down. CID shows up and talks her down and she gets out of the vehicle….. Once she gets out, change of heart….. .45 to the head…. one shot/one self-inflicted KIA…. End of story……
Pvt. Klippel, who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, was a casualty of the wars that have destroyed so many individual lives and families. In January, the Congressional Quarterly reported:
Figures released by the armed services last week showed an alarming increase in suicides in 2010, but those figures leave out some categories.
Overall, the services reported 434 suicides by personnel on active duty, significantly more than the 381 suicides by active-duty personnel reported in 2009. The 2010 total is below the 462 deaths in combat, excluding accidents and illness. In 2009, active-duty suicides exceeded deaths in battle.
In 2009, the Pentagon reported that along with a jump in suicides among troops, “An increasing number are female Soldiers, who rarely committed suicide before but now are killing themselves at a much higher rate.”
Two days ago, the AP published an article that reported that female soldiers have much higher rates of divorce than their male military counterparts or civilian counterparts:
For women in the military, there’s a cold, hard reality: Their marriages are more than twice as likely to end in divorce as those of their male comrades — and up to three times as likely for enlisted women. And military women get divorced at higher rates than their peers outside the military, while military men divorce at lower rates than their civilian peers.
About 220,000 women have served in Afghanistan and Iraq in roles ranging from helicopter pilots to police officers. Last year, 7.8 percent of women in the military got a divorce, compared with 3 percent of military men, according to Pentagon statistics. Among the military’s enlisted corps, nearly 9 percent of women saw their marriages end, compared with a little more than 3 percent of the men.
Like all divorces, the results can be a sense of loss and a financial blow. But for military women, a divorce can be a breaking point — even putting them at greater risk for homelessness down the road.
It has an effect, too, on military kids. The military has more single moms than dads, and an estimated 30,000 of them have deployed in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Why military women are more burdened by divorce is unclear, although societal pressure is likely a factor.
“Societal pressure”? More accurately, sexism and unequal power place greater distress on women soldiers.
Poster Girl, a new film about a female war veteran-turned anti-war activist tells a tragic, yet hopeful story. It will air on HBO in 2011. The website describes the film as:
The story of Robynn Murray, an all-American high-school cheerleader turned “poster girl” for women in combat, distinguished by Army Magazine’s cover shot. Now home from Iraq, her tough-as-nails exterior begins to crack, leaving Robynn struggling with the debilitating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).