Texas Vets Dying Young At Alarming Rate

Barrett Welch and Leesha Faulkner | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal | September 30, 2012

A six-month investigation by the Austin American-Statesman of Texas’ Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who died after leaving the military found that an alarmingly high percentage died from prescription drug overdoses, toxic drug combinations, suicide and single-car crashes — a largely unseen pattern of early death that federal authorities are failing to adequately track.

They survived the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. But they did not survive the homecoming.

The newspaper obtained autopsies, toxicology reports, inquests and accident reports from more than 50 agencies throughout Texas to analyze the causes of death for 266 Texas veterans who served in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and were receiving VA benefits when they died.

The newspaper began with 345 fragmentary, nameless records provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Reporters used obituaries, widely scattered public records and interviews with veterans’ families and friends to identify the dead, determine causes of death and reveal a phenomenon that has largely been hidden from public view.

The investigation found that...