Record Suicides, Substance Abuse Among Fort Hood Soldiers Subject of New Film; Screening Today in Austin

Film Highlighting Fort Hood Soldiers Premieres in Austin

KVUE TV, Oct. 13, 2012

AUSTIN — Filmed in Central Texas, “Beer is Cheaper than Therapy” sheds light on the growing mental health crisis affecting thousands of U.S. soldiers returning from war.

The documentary examines the high rates of depression, alcoholism, and suicide among soldiers in Killeen, Texas, the town next to the Fort Hood Army base. The film profiles several soldiers trying to adjust to life back at home after fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Beer is Cheaper than Therapy” debuted at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam. It screens [Sunday] (Oct 14) at 3 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse Village

A Q&A with director Simone de Vries follows the film.

The screening is a benefit for Fisher House, a nonprofit organization supporting military families.

Read this story at its source:


Suicide Now Killing More U.S. Troops Than Combat Overseas, Statistics Show; Families Suffering the Aftermath

Army Capt. Ian Morrison, a 2007 West Point graduate and Apache helicopter pilot at Fort Hood, Texas, took his own life March 21, 2012 after he called the DoD suicide hotline for help, but was placed on hold for more than an hour, his wife Rebecca said. Later that evening, Morrison fatally shot himself in the head. His wife came home from night school and found his body inside their Copperas Cove, TX, home. Ian was 26. “He was one of the best and brightest that the Army had,” said Rebecca Morrison. “He tried six times to get help. We need to know and we need to really take it to heart that when someone comes in to get help, that they really need it.” (DoD)

Suicide Rate Now Higher Than Combat Toll

by Jane Cowan
The World Today/ABC News, June 26, 2012

New statistics from the war in Afghanistan have revealed more American soldiers are now dying through suicide, rather than in combat. The spike in the number of troops taking their own lives is causing concern at the highest levels of the Obama administration, with the Defence Secretary Leon Panetta admitting he’s ‘very concerned’.

Listen to this report:

Read related story about Ian and Rebecca Morrison by the Washington Post:

DoD Leaders Paralyzed in Fight Against Military Suicide Epidemic; Army Announces it Will ‘Study the Studies’

Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno has ordered a team of officials to visit major installations across the country to study suicide prevention efforts. Odierno is the former commander of Fort Hood’s III Corps, the Army’s largest combat unit. Fort Hood recorded at least 22 suicides in 2010. Army officials say there have been seven soldier suicides at Fort Hood to date in 2012. The summer months historically is the peak ‘suicide season.’ (DoD)

Army to Renew Efforts to Combat High Suicide Rates

by Jeremy Schwartz
AMERICAN-Statesman, June 22, 2012

FORT HOOD — The Army chief of staff on Friday said he will dispatch top Army officials to major installations across the country to study suicide prevention efforts in hopes of lowering record suicide rates among active duty service members.

Gen. Ray Odierno made the announcement during a visit to Fort Hood, where alarming suicide numbers have helped galvanize national attention on the issue in recent years.

“Obviously suicide continues to be a major concern. It’s something that is vexing to us, and we have studied it incredibly hard,” Odierno told reporters. “We’re focused on this, and we’re going to sustain our focus on this.”

We have to make clear that we will not tolerate actions that belittle, that haze, that ostracize any individual, particularly those who have made the decision to seek professional help. — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

Odierno said Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd Austin would visit Army posts to study existing suicide prevention programs and look for improvements.

The Army has spent millions of dollars to implement a range of suicide prevention programs, but solutions have proven elusive so far: The Associated Press recently reported that active-duty suicide rates are at their highest point in the past decade, as the U.S. has waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Odierno spoke hours after Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told an annual convention on military suicide in Washington, D.C., that suicide numbers among service members are moving in a “tragic direction.”

Panetta said part of the solution lies with commanding officers who have day-to-day contact with their troops.

“We have to make clear that we will not tolerate actions that belittle, that haze, that ostracize any individual, particularly those who have made the decision to seek professional help,” Panetta said in a speech to mental health professionals.

Panetta, who pledged to elevate mental fitness to the same level of importance as physical fitness, called suicide perhaps the most frustrating challenge he has come across since becoming defense secretary, in part because the trend is heading in the wrong direction even as more resources are aimed at the problem.

At Fort Hood, there have been 7 suicides this year as of early June, on pace to eclipse last year’s 10, but still less than the record 22 suicides in 2010, when one particularly difficult week saw four soldiers commit suicide.

Read the rest of this story: