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Panel Says Perstempo, Marital Discord Contributed to Bragg Murders

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2002 – Marital discord, high personnel tempo and fear of counseling contributed to five murders at Fort Bragg, N.C., Army officials said today.

During a six-week period in June and July 2002, there were four homicides of active duty soldiers' wives at the base. The soldiers have been accused of the crimes.

In a fifth case, a woman allegedly killed her soldier husband.

Fort Bragg and Army officials have examined the tragic incidents and recommended a number of steps to address these problems. Serious incident review boards, ordered by local commanders, investigated the incidents, as did an epidemiological consultation team from the Department of the Army.

Overall, officials at the post plan to increase awareness of domestic violence incidents and highlight the options open to families having domestic troubles. Post officials also plan to reach out to soldiers and their families living off post.

Fort Bragg leaders have strengthened cooperation with some local jurisdictions and are working to expand cooperation with others.

The base will also sponsor immediate counseling programs for soldiers returning from forward-deployed locations.

The base implemented a toll-free phone number on Nov. 1 that Fort Bragg families can call for help in dealing with a number of issues, including domestic violence. Post officials launched a direct-mail campaign to ensure that all spouses and soldiers have information about the service.

The Army will study the impact personnel tempo has on military families and look at building pilot programs at the base to institute workplace-oriented behavioral healthcare, violence-prevention programs, and unit-based marriage- education programs.

The Army has many programs dealing with domestic abuse. Unfortunately, researchers found that many soldiers do not take advantage of such programs because they feel going for help will adversely impact their careers. An Army working group is developing an action plan that "encourages soldiers to avail themselves of behavioral health services without adverse inference," according to an executive summary of the recommendations.

The epidemiological group eliminated the anti-malarial drug Mefloquine, also known as Lariam, as a cause for the tragic incidents.

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