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.

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Top DoD Officer Gen Martin Dempsey Punts on Military Suicide Question: “We Really Need to Continue to Learn About What’s Happening”

Gen Martin Dempsey addressing national reporters after a lunch party at Washington D.C.’s National Press Club on Oct. 10, 2012, linked the ongoing military suicide epidemic to societal problems inherent in unresilient recruits. “You know, the young men serving. Suicide is a national problem. It also happens to be a dire, important, serious military problem. But something out there is changing in the resilience of young men and women today,” Dempsey said. (Getty)

Pentagon’s Top Military Officer Claims Suicide Epidemic Remains Poorly Understood Problem, Rooted in Society; Calls for More Resilience Training

by Gen. Martin Dempsey
National Press Club, Oct. 10, 2012


Q: What is the next step to reducing suicides among active duty service members?

A: Yeah, I, ya know … ‘step’ implies there is something sequential here and it’s not.

This is really another one that, ya know, you just, we really need to continue, to learn about what’s happening.

Now look, some of it is societal.

You know, the young men serving … Suicide is a national problem.

It also happens to be a dire, important, serious military problem. But something out there is changing in the resilience of young men and women today.

And so, one of the things we’re looking at is what do you gotta do when you recruit these young men and women off the streets of America, ya know.

How do we, how do we build resilience into the force — from birth — and how do ya sustain it through a career where there are pressures; whether it’s a deployment, or whether it’s combat, or whether it’s even life, whether it’s life-altering incidents; divorce, ya know financial challenges?

It’s, it’s really an issue of building resilience over time.

Secondly, there is, ya know, there is a correlation. There’s a medical component of that — I think — that we’ve gotta address; and there’s also ya know the, the, the, the, the trust of the force is really what I think ultimately provides us the best chance to get, to get a grip on this. And here’s what I mean by that.

If I show up in a unit and I can’t do enough push-ups to pass the PT [physical training] test … you know that some sergeant is gonna be out there and say, “Come here young man. I want you to partner with her. She maxes her PT test every time she takes it.”

And so for the next three months you’re gonna do physical training with her. And by the end of that time you’re gonna pass the PT test.

There’s really nothing exactly like that for, for, ya know, states of depression.

And, um, that’s what we gotta figure out; is how do you get the entire force, not just the leaders. The leaders understand it … that’s not true … the leaders understand the significance of it.

I’m not sure we really understand the depth and breadth of the issue.

But, the leaders get it.

We gotta drive it to the lowest level.

It’s not preventable, back to the same, you know, you asked me can we stop insiders threats? No, but were trying to do as much as we can. Can you stop suicides? No, but we gotta do as much as we can and we gotta keep at it.

View Gen Dempsey’s speech at its source:

TRANSITION: “At Home I’m a Nobody”

Soldiers board a jetliner on their way home from war. Some troops arrive to waiting family and friends just 72 hours after their last firefight. After a two- to three-week ‘honeymoon’ period, soldiers often find difficulty reconnecting with the very society they came from; a society now intolerable and foreign. After a month or so, many secretly desire to board the next plane back to combat. Others — sickened at the prospect of returning to war — will consider suicide. (DoD)

Coming Home

Combat veteran shares his experiences and observations after war

by Rhino, May 30, 2011

It’s hard to put into words what it’s like coming home. Each service member is different and each deployment is different.

For me, coming home was always a disappointment. After a honeymoon period of one or two weeks, reality kicks in and you find yourself wishing you were back there.

At home, I’m a nobody, either looking for work or hating the awful job I have at the time.

Over there, I’m Sergeant or Sarge. I’m the guy my soldiers look up to and trust to get them home alive. My superiors know I’m the guy they won’t have to worry about, that I’ll get it done and make smart decisions when they need to get made.

When people come up to me and say, “Thank you for your service,” I never know how to react. If I think they are genuine, I will say something like, “It’s an honor” or “It’s a privilege to do so.”

Sometimes though, I can tell that people are against what we’re doing over there and I really want to say, “Do you have any idea what service is?” Or “Do you know what I just gave up for you?”

The daily questions of “what was it like?” or “did you kill anyone?” have started to taper off, but you’re still angry because this is not the vision you had in mind when you went “wheels up” for the flight home. Plus, people are beginning to notice that you’re a little on edge and angrier than usual and they seem to have the need to let you know, just in case you missed it

Just because I defend your right to free speech, doesn’t mean I’m interested in what you windbags have to say. Politics aside, no service member wants to hear “you shouldn’t have had to go” or “we shouldn’t even be there.”

We, huh? What unit were you in? Were you that fellow in my truck blasting at bad guys from the gun ring? Or maybe it was you who gave me the briefing on the latest intelligence updates.


Forget the actual details of what a service member goes through, each story is as unique as a thumbprint.

Just try to imagine falling asleep and waking up again a year later. That’s what coming home is like.

You’re a year older. Things you left unfinished are still unfinished. Your car is a wreck because no one took care of it. Your clothes, music, and pop-culture references are all left over from last year. Everyone has adapted to life without you, and all that getting together and partying you and your buddies talked about never really takes place.

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