Soldiers of the First Armored Division’s Fourth Brigade are statistically at higher risk of death upon returning to their home base of Fort Bliss, Texas, than they were while deployed in Iraq, the New York Times reported July 14.
Drunk-driving crashes, drug use, suicide and murder contributed to more deaths during the brigade’s last return to Fort Bliss than when the soldiers were in Iraq, where just one brigade member died.
“We talk about the enemy here, which is different from the enemy downrange, but which is just as deadly,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Sa’eed Mustafa. “They were leaving a war zone, coming back home and not getting the care and supervision necessary, which allowed them to stay in the Mosul mind-set. This is a group of people that had been fighting and killing and taking casualties for 14 months. You can’t switch it on and off.”
The brigade is home again, and this time is taking a multiprong approach to preventing crime and violence, from providing counselors for depressed soldiers to discharging troublemakers. Leaders have been trained in suicide prevention, and officers have made a point of visiting local bars to keep tabs on off-hours behavior.