Friday, July 31, 2009

"Lethal Warriors" Bring The War Home

Via Democracy Now (and my lil sis, who lives nearby the Springs, Ft. Carson, and all the concentrated military madness of the surroundings--the Air Force Academy, the Fort, the airbases, etc--under the dome of heaven at the foot of Pike's Peak, and reads the Gazette.)
A startling two-part series published in the Gazette newspaper of Colorado Springs titled “Casualties of War” examines a part of war seldom discussed by the media or government officials: the difficulty of returning to civilian life after being trained to be a killer. The story focuses on a single battalion based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment. Soldiers from the brigade have have been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, drunk driving, drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides. The Army unit’s murder rate is 114 times the rate for Colorado Springs. We speak with the reporter who broke the story and get the Army’s response.
Fort Carson is the site of some of the most egregious examples of the Army, especially, either ignoring or punishing soldiers' efforts to get help for PTSD and other cambat-related psychopathologies which the military is only too glad to liberate in its trained killers, but is then later far too slow to ameliorate or dissolve when the troops come "home." (NPR's only real reporter, Daniel Zwerdling (the rest being all-to-willing tools of the USer propaganda apparat), has reported on the situation in terms of the way the Army has overlooked the problem since 2006.)

Troopers of the 2nd/12th returned from the front to Fort Carson have been responsible for dozens of murders, attacks, rapes, beatings, and other acts of unrestrained violence in the community, often victimizing fellow soldiers along with their families. The murder rate among troopers in the unit--the "Lethal Warriors"--is 114 times greater than that of the surrounding community. A precis:
The story focuses on a single battalion based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, the 2nd Batallion, 12th Infantry Regiment. The battalion’s nickname is the “Lethal Warriors.” In Iraq, the unit fought in some of the war’s bloodiest battles, in Ramadi on its first tour, downtown Baghdad on its second. In May, the unit deployed again, this time to Afghanistan.

For some of the unit’s soldiers, the killing didn’t end when they returned home. The Gazette reports that since 2006 ten infantry soldiers have been arrested and accused of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter. Others have committed other violent crimes. Some of the veterans have committed suicide. In a one-year period, from the fall of 2007 to the fall of 2008, the murder rate for members of the Army unit was 114 times the rate for Colorado Springs.

In late 2006, twenty-one-year-old Anthony Marquez killed a small-time drug dealer by shooting him repeatedly with a stun gun and then shot him in the heart.

In August of 2007, twenty-four-year-old Louis Bressler robbed and shot a soldier he picked up on a street in Colorado Springs.

In December of 2007, three soldiers from the unit—Louis Bressler, Bruce Bastien and Kenneth Eastridge—left the bullet-riddled body of a soldier from their unit on a Colorado Springs street. Two months earlier, the same group intentionally drove into a woman walking to work. One of the soldiers then repeatedly stabbed her.

In May and June of 2008, police say Rudolfo Torres-Gandarilla and Jomar Falu-Vives drove around with an assault rifle, randomly shooting people.

In September of 2008, police say John Needham beat a former girlfriend to death.

Josh Butler was sent to prison for beating his pregnant wife. Months later, his child was born with severe birth defects and died. Butler blames himself, in part, for the child’s death.

While Fort Carson has instituted a number of new policies and programs to help returning soldiers adjust to civilian life, the killing has continued. In May, Thomas Woolly was charged with manslaughter after shooting a nineteen-year-old woman. Two weeks later, another member of the unit committed suicide in California.
DN doesn't provide an embed link, but there's video at the DN site.

No comments: