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Anti-war veterans, widow want investigation into JBLM suicides

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Northwest News Network
Army widow Ashley Joppa-Hagemann, right, with anti-war veterans, calls for a congressional investigation into soldier suicides at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

NEAR JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Some anti-war veterans – and an Army widow – are demanding a Congressional investigation into an apparent spike in suicides at Joint Base Lewis-McChord . So far this year nine soldiers are believed to have killed themselves, including five in the month of July alone.

At a G.I. Coffee House near Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Ashley Joppa-Hagemann blames the Army for her husband's suicide.

"The military did not take care of my husband," she says.

Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann was an Army Ranger who had deployed multiple times – and was set to deploy again. He was found dead in June at a training area of Lewis-McChord. The Army has not confirmed his death was a suicide.

But Joseph Carter with the group Iraq Veterans Against the War says suicide prevention efforts on base are not working.

"We can't wait for politicians and military leaders to act while our brothers and sisters in uniform fall through the cracks," he says."

Carter and other anti-war veterans are calling for a community-based campaign to demand change. A base spokesman says the Army post takes "suicide and the prevention of suicide very seriously" and has "committed money, care and leadership" to identify high-risk soldiers and get them help.

On the Web:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsuNhDeK48Y
Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.