Shooting suspect's base no stranger to trouble
(CBS News) The soldier suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians comes from Joint Base Lewis-McChord - a military base outside Seattle that military newspaper, Stars and Stripes called "the most troubled base in the military," and the LA Times called a "base on the brink."
Across the country there is fear that fallout from the shooting will tarnish the image of the U.S. military, but nowhere is that worry more deeply felt than at the base itself, a place with so much recent controversy.
The sprawling military installation, home to 100,000 soldiers and civilians, has come under fire for the behavior of its soldiers. Last month, the head of the base medical center was fired amid an Army investigation into the reversals of nearly 300 diagnoses of of post-traumatic stress disorder - PTSD.
Earlier this year, a 24-year-old Iraq war veteran shot and killed a Mount Rainier National Park ranger. In 2010, four Lewis-McChord soldiers were convicted in the deliberate "thrill killings" of three Afghan civilians. And last year, after Lewis-McChord saw more suicides than ever before.
The chilling photos of murdered women and children in Kandahar shocked those in the Ft. Lewis community, but one military veteran says the revelation that the accused shooter came from here is not so hard to believe.
"I'm not really surprised when I heard that the soldier was from Joint Base Lewis-McChord," said Jorge Gonzalez, executive director of Coffee Strong, a veteran-owned and operated G.I. coffeehouse located within 300 meters of the gates of the base. "It was like, it figures. This base has been bombarded with bad press."
Gonzalez said, "There are hundreds of soldiers with PTSD. The domestic violence issues have gone up; the DUI cases have gone up. Soldiers are being re-deployed at a rapid rate. It's catching up to these soldiers they have a problem and don't have time to heal."
It is unknown what, if any, role PTSD played in the actions of the latest shooting.
There has been no comment from representatives at the base.
(To watch Ben Tracy's full report, watch the video in the player above.)
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