Four soldiers took their own lives in two months

We should all be aware of Governor Greg Abbott’s politically motivated operations Lonely star“Including securing the US-Mexican border how to rekindle his governorate race. It already had severe consequences for the members Texas National Guard and Texas State Guard. Note: Suicide is mentioned below. If you need help, feel free to call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and someone on picks up the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

This is separate from the federally controlled National Guard, which is already present along the US-Mexico border, raising the obvious question of the need for Operation Lone Star. Read this article from January 7, 2022 in Texas Standard with name, “Gov. Greg Abbott faces criticism for treating Texas National Guard units on the southern border. this lists the cuts the legislator has made to help with teaching and low morale. And all in the middle of a pandemic.

Who are they “fighting” besides desperate families and children seeking asylum? These are sad times for our state.

One can only imagine how disruptive it was for these young people, whose decision the governor changed their lives. This is different from a federal deployment, which gives soldiers several months to put their personal affairs in order before deployment. As marked Army TimesNot giving the soldiers enough time will ruin their lives. This must be thoroughly investigated so that their deaths are not in vain.

-Angela Valenzuela

Four soldiers took their own lives in two months they took their lives two months

December 23, 2021

Pfc. At the end of October, Joshua R. Cortez was preparing to take on “lifelong work” at one of the largest health insurance companies in the country. But the Texas National Guard had other ideas. The state’s mission to guard its border with Mexico, known as Operation Lone Star, expanded rapidly, which meant that involuntary activations were required to meet Governor Greg Abbott’s troops.

Cortez was one of the soldiers who had been intercepted to carry out state orders in active service – no idea how long the mission would last.

“I’ve been waiting for this job and I’m on my way to accepting it,” the 21-year-old mechanic wrote in his release request. “I missed my first opportunity in September when I had to go on a flood mission in Louisiana. … I cannot miss this opportunity, because it is my last opportunity for this lifelong work. ”

The Cortez Company Commander recommended approval. But his battalion commander and brigade commander, Colonel Robert Crock of the 176th Engineer Brigade, disagreed and wrote, “A soldier can deploy. If a soldier is offered a job, he may be given time to train. “

Crokem signed the form at 20:19 on November 4.

Sometime within the next 36 hours, Cortez drove to a parking lot in northwest San Antonio and shot himself in the head. The first respondents found him at 7:40 on November 6.

Cortez and three other soldiers following Operation Lone Star have died a suspicious suicide in the past two months, according to family members, guard soldiers currently taking part in the mission, and official documents obtained by the Army Times.

  • Sgt. Jose L. De Hoyos was found dead in Lared, Texas on October 26. He was a member of the command company of the 949th Brigade Battalion.
  • Cortez died overnight on November 6.
  • 1. Sgt. John “Kenny” Crutcher died on November 12, when it was time for his temporary relinquishment. He was the top non-commissioned officer of Company B, 3rd Battalion, 144th Infantry.
  • 1st Lieutenant Charles Williams, commander of the Crutcher Company platoon, died at home overnight on December 17 at the pass.

The suicide chain raises urgent questions about the conditions and purpose of the mission, as well as the way it is organized and served through vague involuntary summons, according to a former Texas Army National Guard chief. Operation Lone Star is a separate mission from the federally controlled task force of the National Guard on the US-Mexican border, which was the subject of a previous Army Times investigation.

Retired Command Sgt. May. Jason Featherston, who was the top military leader of the Texas Army from May 2020 until retirement from May 2020 until retirement on November 30, described a number of issues plaguing the unit, including complaints from guards about the apparent lack of purpose in the mission, in a series of interviews.

“The [Texas Military Department]The leadership has stopped focusing on what matters most, and that is the soldier, “he said. “Their inability to focus on the needs of individual soldiers has cost several lives, and not only them [focus], further tragedies will continue. “

The Army Times e-mailed an unnamed spokesman for the Texas military. Unlike other members of the National Guard, Public Affairs staff usually do not speak and cover up their identities through a group e-mail address.

The spokesman warned: “Some of them [deaths] they are still part of an open investigation “until the ultimate cause of death. However, according to official documents and sources familiar with the deaths, all four deaths allegedly occurred with self-inflicted injuries.

“The loss of any member of the service is a tragedy, and mitigating the loss by enforcing security protocols and securing resources that support the overall health of the units is something the Texas Department of the military takes seriously,” the spokesman added. They pointed to the organization’s 24-hour confidential advisory lines for soldiers and commanders, in addition to their “large team of independently licensed therapists,” who offer services to all department staff for free.

“In addition to the resources listed above, Operation Lone Star is assigned a behavioral health team with members in each region that our working group supports,” the spokesman said. “The OLS Behavioral Health Team practices proactive personal contact through self-care training, crisis mitigation and available resources.”

Critics of the mission said its rapid expansion was motivated by politics. Abbott, the state’s governor, faces a tough primary challenge in March from conservative firefighter Allen West, a former army officer who was forced to retire after torturing prisoners in Iraq in 2003.

West, a former Florida congressman who was elected chairman of the Texas Republican Party in July 2020, has made US-Mexican border security a primary element of his platform. He resigned in June 2021 and announced his candidacy for governor a month later.

Featherston described the mission’s political motives as “well known in the office.” He said the morale of the guards sent to the Texas border began to deteriorate as the mission expanded from a small, voluntary effort during the spring and summer – when there were only 1,000 troops on the mission – to an involuntary task.

On September 20, Abbott ordered the activation of another 1,500 troops, according to planning documents. Soon after, on October 7, Abbott activated another 2,500 Guards for the operation, bringing the total to 5,000.

According to the latest manpower adjustments, Operation Lone Star is now supported by about 10,000 Texas military personnel, according to the November operating order. Of these, 6,500 are along the border and 3,500 support missions from other parts of the state.

What is happening there

Increased demand for border troops meant that the department had to resort to involuntary activation of entire Texas National Guard units and mobilization of Texas State Guard members.

Pfc. Joshua Cortez on an undated photo published with his online obituary. (Porter-Loring Morgue)

With the September and October activations, the units received less than two weeks in advance to report to the border. One soldier, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Army Times that his unit had only four days of official notice.

“Soldiers don’t have time to prepare.” [for] be away from home “when they receive such a small alert, Featherston said. In most federal deployments, guard units receive several months’ notice and carefully go through a mobilization process that helps them resolve their civilian affairs.

For Operation Lone Star, the process was hasty and many troops were still trying to solve problems at home on the border.

Meanwhile, after the Texas legislature called for a budget cut, the Texas Guard massively reduced its tuition fees to balance its books, leaving many soldiers imprisoned without paying the payments they had planned for the fall semester, which was already underway.

David Berry

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