Stars and Stripes: Why is Fort Hood the Army’s Most Crime-Ridden Post? (August 21, 2020)


by Rose Thayer

Keeping Track

“In the last five years, 165 soldiers assigned to Fort Hood have died, according to the Fort Hood Public Affairs Office, which regularly released information on soldiers’ death until a 2018 decision to stop the practice. The post was an outlier in this level of transparency.

In those years, seven soldiers died by homicide, while six died in a combat zone. The deaths of 70 soldiers were ruled suicides, and on- and off-base accidents resulted in the deaths of 60 soldiers.”

(Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present) *we missed close to 25 deaths because Fort Hood stopped issuing press releases for the death of soldiers in early 2018)

Asking for a Solution

Air Force veteran Jennifer Norris believes Fort Hood’s current situation has been years in the making.

For the past decade, Norris, a trained social worker with a master’s degree in public policy, has been tracking crimes committed by and against service members and advocating for reform. She posts her research on her website, Military Justice for All.

She first focused her research on several large military bases, but after noticing a trend of Fort Hood deaths, Norris narrowed her efforts to the Texas post.

‘I didn’t set up to go after Fort Hood at all. It’s a compilation of systematic issues,’ she said.

At the end of 2017, Norris used her own money to travel from her home in Maine to Washington to meet with lawmakers. By the time she got home, Norris said she thought everyone had moved on without intending to address the problems.

‘The other bases are nothing like Fort Hood is right now,’ she said. ‘I think the anomaly with Fort Hood is that its isolated and that it’s such an economic powerhouse in the community that it’s in everybody’s best interest to protect it so they can protect themselves.’”

(Washington D.C. Veteran’s Presentation on the Current Status of the Armed Forces at Fort Hood in Texas (December 12, 2017))

Read more here: Why is Fort Hood the Army’s most crime-ridden post?

Related Links:
Fort Hood Army Staff Sgt. Paul Norris Fatally Shot Spc. Kamisha Block in Murder-Suicide in Iraq; Family Calls for Congressional Hearings & Independent Investigations (August 16, 2007)
Air Force TSgt. Jennifer Norris Testified Before the House Armed Services Committee in Washington DC (January 23, 2013)
Gillibrand: The Military Justice Improvement Act Would Give Service Members a Justice System That Works (July 1, 2019)
Rep. Seth Moulton Introduces The Brandon Act to Change DoD Mental Health Policy, Pay Tribute to Fallen Navy Sailor Brandon Caserta (June 25, 2020)
Open Letter to House of Representatives in Support of an Independent Investigation of the Murder of Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood (July 7, 2020)
Austin American-Statesman: Vanessa Guillen’s Death Shines Light on More Tragedies at Fort Hood (July 28, 2020)

Sixteen Afghanistan Citizens Killed in ‘The Kandahar Massacre’; Army SSG Robert Bales Pleaded Guilty to Murder to Avoid the Death Penalty, Sentenced to Life (2012)

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SSG Robert Bales, US Army

According to early reports by media, Afghanistan citizens reported that on March 11, 2012 multiple US military members were involved in what is now referred to as The Kandahar Massacre. This was considered the worst war crime ever committed by a US soldier since Vietnam. First the media claimed that 17 then 16 Afghanistan civilians were murdered in their homes in the middle of the night. Shortly after military authorities learned of the murders, SSG Robert Bales was swiftly flown back to the United States despite protest by Afghanistan citizens who wanted him tried in Afghanistan. They wanted him to hang. The US Army transferred SSG Bales to Fort Leavenworth two days after arriving back in the US. They eventually charged SSG Bales with the murder of 16 Afghanistan civilians and announced that they were seeking the death penalty.

Prior to the courts martial, Bales lawyer negotiated with the prosecution and asked that they take the death penalty off the table in exchange for Bales pleading guilty to the crimes. It was accepted and Bales was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Since then the media has examined the court documents and deduced that the Army missed the warning signs. Bales was on his fourth deployment when this incident occurred. There were previous concerns about his mental health but no real follow up. Others noticed that his behavior was erratic. And Afghanistan officials were concerned that the Army was not monitoring their personnel and equipment. And after examining all the media accounts, one can’t help wonder if SSG Bales was a lone gunman or a scapegoat. In response to this case, the Army announced in 2015 they came up with a new plan to help soldiers with PTSD.

Related Links:
No one asked their names
Inside The Kandahar Massacre; Grieving Survivors Describe Afghan Mass Murder
17 Afghan Civilians massacred by Staff Sgt. Robert Bales & team
Army identifies Staff Sgt. Robert Bales of Washington state as suspect in killing of 16 Afghan civilians
Afghan massacre suspect identified as Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales
Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales charged with murdering 17 Afghans
Bales Charged With 17 Murder Counts In Afghan Civilian Killings
Perilous web of mortgage debt ensnarled Army sergeant, wife
US Army to seek death penalty for soldier charged with Kandahar massacre
Charges against Bales challenge Army’s victim list
Army: Bales, wife laughed about killing charges
Afghan Massacre: Army Sgt. to Undergo Sanity Review
US Army seeks death penalty for Robert Bales, accused of Afghan villager massacre
Crime and Punishment, Military-Style
Robert Bales sentenced to life in prison for Afghanistan massacre
Staff Sgt. Bales Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murdering 16 Afghans Civilians
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for Afghanistan massacre that left 16 dead
US soldier sentenced to life in prison for shooting 16 Afghans
Army’s Robert Bales gets life, no parole for Afghan rampage — but was it justice?
Robert Bales Speaks: Confessions of America’s Most Notorious War Criminal
Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales was on his fourth war zone deployment when he was accused of killing 16 Afghans
‘I was consumed by war’: New photo shows the face of US soldier moments after he ‘broke’ and massacred 16 Afghan villagers as he tells all in astonishing prison letter
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales Came to Hate ‘Everyone Who Isn’t American’
Robert Bales makes bid for mercy: ‘There isn’t a why; there is only pain’
Report sheds new light on U.S. soldier who murdered 16 Afghans
Report: Bales ‘erratic’ before 2012 shooting rampage
What It’s Like to Have an American War Criminal in Your Barracks
U.S. Army Missed Soldier’s Signs of Trouble
The Army’s New Plan To Help Soldiers With PTSD
Silent Night – Lela Ahmadzai (Documentary)

The Wounded Platoon: A Powerful Portrait of What Multiple Tours & Post-Traumatic Stress are Doing to a Generation of Young American Soldiers (May 18, 2010)

The Wounded Platoon

Click here to watch The Wounded Platoon on PBS.

“Since the Iraq War began, soldier arrests in the city of Colorado Springs have tripled. FRONTLINE tells the dark tale of the men of 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st battalion of the 506th infantry, and how the war followed them home. It is a story of heroism, grief, vicious combat, depression, drugs, alcohol and brutal murder; an investigation into the Army’s mental health services; and a powerful portrait of what multiple tours and post-traumatic stress are doing to a generation of young American soldiers. [Explore more stories on the original website for The Wounded Platoon.]” -PBS (May 18, 2010)