The April 2014 shooting at Fort Hood reminded Americans that some veterans are fighting a battle here at home: a mental struggle to readjust to life out of a warzone.
An estimated one out of ten service members will return home from war with some sort of mental disorder, such as depression, combat stress or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and on rare occasion, these disorders are linked to violence.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, findings from the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS) include a rise in the number of suicide deaths from 2004 to 2009 in currently deployed soldiers and soldiers who never deployed.
Historically, the suicide rates in the U.S. Army fall below the civilian rate. However, the military rate began to climb at the turn of the 21st century, and by 2008, the Army STARRS report said it exceeded the civilian rate.
In 2012, Michiana was reminded that the scars of war can hit home.
On April 13, 2012, 27-year-old Jessica Rawls was shot by her husband, 22-year-old Rico Rawls Jr. at around 10:00 p.m. in their on-post housing at Fort Campbell.
According to Jessica Rawls' mother, the couple’s one year old daughter was upstairs at the time.
Rawls Jr. was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group, part of the U.S. Airborne, at Fort Campbell, KY where he worked as an information systems operator. He completed two combat deployments to Iraq, returning from his latest tour in November, 2011.
He met Jessica in the Army, where she too was a reservist with two daughters from a previous relationship.
The U.S. Army criminal Investigation Command investigated Jessica Rawls' death, and with a history of documented marital issues, it was believed that her death came after a verbal argument that resulted in gunfire.
After allegedly shooting his wife, Rico Rawls Jr. fled the Tennessee military base towards his home state of Georgia. Some 37 police units from multiple agencies were hot on the trail of Rawls’ 2011 white Buick Regal for more than 80 miles. The high speed pursuit started in Hamilton County, TN., and ended in Bartow County, GA., with speeds over 115 mph.
Along I-75 Rawls Jr. shot himself in the head. His car drifted off the side of the road, crashed into a cable barrier, and was redirected back across the highway. At around 2:00 a.m. his car finally came to rest in an embankment.
An emergency helicopter transported Rawls' Jr. to the hospital where he died two days later from his injuries.