Army, advocates working to help at-risk soldiers - FOX Carolina 21

Army, advocates working to help at-risk soldiers

Posted: Updated:
FORT CAMPBELL, KY (WSMV) -

All this week, the Channel 4 I-Team has exposed serious questions about the deaths of 17 Fort Campbell soldiers. Each took his own life, and in many cases their families say warning signs were missed by the military.

Now, as Fort Campbell takes new, bold steps to save soldiers' lives, some question if what the military is doing will work.

Fort Campbell leaders are clear about this: they are acknowledging this is a problem, and are taking very public steps to try and stop the suicides.

But those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and others who have lost soldiers to suicide say something very basic needs to change first.

As a Marine, Zachary Bell, went to Afghanistan wanting to serve his country, and he returned bearing battle scars no one can see.

"Little things that you didn't think would bother you do, like fireworks on the Fourth of July or somebody slamming the door, just not hearing a sound and not knowing what's making it," Bell said.

While struggling with PTSD, Bell hit another low, one of the Marines with whom he deployed took his own life.

"I felt like I failed. He was a really good kid," Bell said.

Now a staff member of a nonprofit working to curb soldier suicides, Bell is among those outside and inside the military trying to turn the tide with differing opinions of how to do it.

First, there are the very public demonstrations by Fort Campbell to show how seriously they're taking the problem.

Last month, the post broke ground on a new facility devoted to treating PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.

The new resilience center is open with weights and yoga mats for soldiers to come in, and work off stress.

And perhaps the most visible change is just outside the barracks, where soldiers come seek help at a mental health facility.

But Bell fears some will still avoid the public places to seek help.

"And to put a building right in front of a barracks where they live is probably the worst place of all time. That's the biggest thing, it's the fear and the perception that you'll be seen as weak," he said.

The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network works with Fort Campbell, and recommends a larger staff and more money spent on suicide prevention.

"If they had more funding, where suicide prevention staff were 100 percent, that could make a big difference," said Scott Ridgway, with the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network.

And what may be the biggest hurdle is perception. The military is making a big push for soldiers to be open about their problems.

But Dawn Sult-Williams, whose son-in law was accused of murdering her daughter before killing himself, says soldiers still fear, if they talk they'll lose their career.

"I would like for us to really take care of the soldiers, to try to let them know that we do care, and let them know that admitting there is something wrong is not going to result in immediate discharge and loss of your income," Sult-Williams said.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • Army, advocates working to help at-risk soldiersMore>>

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Two men killed in Spartanburg Co. crash

    Two men killed in Spartanburg Co. crash

    Monday, April 21 2014 6:33 AM EDT2014-04-21 10:33:49 GMT
    A Spartanburg man was killed after crashing his car on the road he lived along early Sunday morning, according to the Spartanburg County Coroner's office. Coroner Rusty Clevenger said the single vehicleMore >
    A Spartanburg man was killed after crashing his car on the road he lived along on early Sunday morning, according to the Spartanburg County Coroner's Office.More >
  • Moped driver dies from injuries after crashing into oncoming vehicle

    Moped driver dies from injuries after crashing into oncoming vehicle

    Sunday, April 20 2014 9:03 PM EDT2014-04-21 01:03:52 GMT
    A Boiling Springs woman who drove her moped into oncoming traffic on Wade Hampton Boulevard earlier this month, passed away from her injuries Sunday, according to the Greenville County Coroner.More >
    A Boiling Springs woman who drove her moped into oncoming traffic on Wade Hampton Boulevard earlier this month passed away from her injuries on Sunday, according to the Greenville County coroner.More >
  • update

    11-year-old killed in Pendleton crash

    11-year-old killed in Pendleton crash

    Sunday, April 20 2014 8:00 AM EDT2014-04-20 12:00:21 GMT
    Troopers with the SC Highway Patrol and the Anderson County Coroner's Office are investigating a deadly car crash in the Pendleton area. Troopers said the crash happened on Cherry Street Extension nearMore >
    Troopers with the SC Highway Patrol and the Anderson County Coroner's Office are investigating a deadly car crash in the Pendleton area.
    More >
Powered by WorldNow
Fox Carolina
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2014, WHNS; Greenville, SC. (A Meredith Corporation Station) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.