Stars and Stripes Reports: How a Pair of Young Servicemen Came to End Their Own Lives

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Alarmed by the rise in suicides, U.S. Army officials have launched multiple studies and directives intended to address the problem. But in two recent cases, Stars and Stripes reports that high-level concern was thwarted by failures of leadership on the ground.

In a new two-part series published this week, Stars and Stripes reports on two recent suicides by young soldiers. “One Army, Two Failures,” probes more deeply into the scourge of suicides in the U.S. Army. These stories focus on two young men from the 10th Mountain Division who took their own lives and thus joined a grim and growing roster.

Alarmed by the rise in suicides, U.S. Army officials have launched multiple studies and directives intended to address the problem. But in at least these two recent cases that high-level concern was thwarted by failures of leadership on the ground.

Spc. Brushaun Anderson, a 20-year-old soldier from Columbus, Ga., killed himself after enduring cruel and abusive treatment at the hands of his superiors. Yet the Army gave those superiors only a slap on the wrist as punishment—and promptly dispatched them to train still more young soldiers.

Pvt. Jacob Andrews, a 22-year-old soldier from Kansas City hobbled by PTSD and alcoholism, hung himself after the Army opted to run him out of the service rather than treat his combat-induced problems.

The story of what happened to these soldiers reveals serious flaws in how the Army handled their cases. Their stories call into question the military's ability to reduce the risk of suicide among its veteran servicemembers.

As the independent news source for the U.S. military, Stars and Stripes has covered the issues of suicide, traumatic brain injury, and post traumatic stress disorder that have become so commonplace among veterans of the current conflicts.

About Stars and Stripes

For nearly 70 storied years of publication, Stars and Stripes has served as the newspaper of the American servicemember. Although often described as the "U.S. military's newspaper, " its growing tradition of boldly reported public service stories clearly illustrates Stars and Stripes' mission to provide unbiased, reliable, and balanced reporting on military topics.

By congressional mandate, Stars and Stripes is editorially independent that reports news produced by a staff of professional editors and reporters whose mission is to provide America’s military men and women overseas with an independent source of news. And, like its peer commercial newspapers, Stars and Stripes generates the bulk of its operating funds from advertising and subscription sales.

Stars and Stripes also receives a subsidy from the U.S. Department of Defense to help defray the extraordinary costs of delivering a daily newspaper to U.S. troops on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq. And that subsidy has sometimes led to the erroneous perception, inside and outside of the Pentagon, that the U.S. military controls what’s published in the paper.

Nothing could be further from the truth. With every report undertaken on behalf of its readers, Stars and Stripes has demonstrated that its fiercely independent public service reporting can achieve real results. In 2009, its journalism was recognized with a Polk Award and a National Headliner Award, among other citations.

Stars and Stripes may have a relatively small daily circulation of just over 80,000, but it's distributed on military bases in dozens of countries and has earned a reputation both for being scrappy—and for consistently delivering a punch above its weight class.

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Margaret Irish

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