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Stars and Stripes calls Lewis-McChord the nation’s “most troubled base”

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Dec. 29, 2010 at 10:32 am with 26 Comments »
December 29, 2010 10:32 am

Stars and Stripes‘ list of its top stories in 2010 says Joint Base Lewis-McChord “developed a reputation as the most troubled base in the military,” citing several scandals that people affiliated with Lewis-McChord view as isolated events.

It’s an ignominious spot built on allegations that five soldiers from the base murdered civilians during their deployment to Afghanistan with the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. They’re awaiting trials at Lewis-McChord.

Stars and Stripes also looked to reports that steroid use is increasing, Oregon National Guard soldiers did not receive appropriate care at Madigan Army Medical Center when they returned from a deployment to Iraq, and that the Army didn’t do all it could to head off a shooting in Utah when a suicidal soldier went AWOL.

Each of those events kept Lewis-McChord in the press in 2010, but officers at the base dispute that they’re linked. They say the base has ramped up staffing at Madigan to help soldiers reintegrate into civilian life, that most National Guard units praise the care they receive at Madigan and that most soldiers should have at least 20 months at home before facing another overseas assignment.

Leave a comment Comments → 26
  1. BlaineCGarver says:

    In a community of that size, with that many Alpha men/women, it’s a wonder that so FEW problems occur. This is just another slimy reporter (aren’t they all?) looking for some blood to build a “story” on.

  2. Is it because of the solider who jumped off the narrows bridge for no reason?

  3. First_Lefty says:

    “BlaineCGarver says:
    December 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm
    In a community of that size, with that many Alpha men/women, it’s a wonder that so FEW problems occur. This is just another slimy reporter (aren’t they all?) looking for some blood to build a “story” on. “


    Stars and Stripes is the house organ for the US Military.

  4. Adam Ashton says:

    NIN, Stars and Stripes didn’t refer to the former soldier who recently jumped off the Narrows Bridge. It was citing the August death of Spc. Brandon Barrett, who died in a shootout with a Utah police officer.

  5. Adam, that was the bank robber team?

  6. on-base teenager girlfriend drug overdose?

  7. freakwater says:

    The military is Socialism in the purest form. Our food and shopping is government-subsidized just like The old Soviet Union; the U.S. tax payer is billed (bilked?) for our government medical care; our paychecks come from the tax dollars of citizens who work at real jobs in the private sector and industry; we receive guaranteed annual pay raises; and it’s nigh impossible to get fired from our jobs and we have a taxpayer-funded pension when we retire. We also get 30 days paid vacation every year!

    Yes, we make our living completely dependent on taxpayer-provided government largesse which is not dissimilar from other forms of government employment. The military is also the biggest institution of Big Government.

    Whenever a civilian approaches me to offer their thanks for my service, I’m always careful to thank them for paying their taxes on time and for not crying about it like Sarah Palin .

  8. frankiethomas says:

    How about all the UW muggings, three Fort Lews personnel arrested in those cases. Or the female soldier who killed two married soldiers and stole thier child? Fort Lewis soldier who confessed to murdering his wife lat year? Or the one arrested for shooting up a Seattle nightclub? Oh and there was a stabbing. . . Any of these in that article? Just wonder what’s going on when I hear Fort Lews so oftne connected to crime stories On the evening news.

  9. crap. almost forgot the hot soldier who killed the married couple, stole the baby and dissolved their corpses in the acid bathtub!

  10. Tom1953ok says:

    If the Stars & Stripes sees JBLM as a stand-out problem base, it’s for a reason. As said earlier, the S&S is the Army’s newspaper. They don’t write out negatives about service facilities without REALLY good cause. I’m sure many people can come forward and tell of the wonderful treatment they’ve gotten, but the overall figures are what gets looked at.

    I’d need to see a number of things for data before judging the article. For example:

    How many troops are there overall on the various bases surveyed?

    How large are the off-base communities, and how directly supportive are they of their local military?
    How many of those bases’ troops have seen deployments?
    How many have seen multiple deployments?
    If multiple deployments, how long is the break between them?

    @Freakwater: You’re totally right. The military is pure socialism. But it’s a very necessary one. I don’t understand how people who whine and scream the loudest about their taxes expect to be protected from the world they fear so much if they aren’t willing to pay you.

    And of *course* your medical should be part of your pay. Sheesh!

    I find it hysterically funny that a VERY close friend who grew up on Army bases with socialized (military) medicine, then joined the Navy and got more socialized (military) medicine, is now retired, and is now getting his socialized (retired military) medicine. What’s funny about that? He HATES the Obama Health Care Plan because it socializes medicine.

    It *is* getting easier to fire military. Two pass-bys and an upper-level (E-6+, or O-5+) is basically told to find a better job somewhere else.

    Thank you for your service. Your welcome for my taxes. And next time you look in the mirror, thank yourself, too. For both. (Why DO military have to pay Federal taxes? I’ve never understood that.)

  11. Adam Ashton says:

    Tom, those are good questions. There’s a difference between “most troubled” and the base that saw the “most sensational” headlines of 2010. Hopefully we’ll find a way to quantify answers to those questions in the future.

  12. why is this not a surprise?

  13. whoknew123 says:

    the neurosurgeon from madigan who pummeled an old guy with a coffee mug…??

  14. puyallupbaby says:

    nine-you left out the guy that kidnapped a woman and held her as a sex slave, then burned his house down to cover the crime. nathaniel ryan smith…they caught him texas in 2009 after he went awol, too.

  15. “… Stars and Stripes exists to provide independent news and information to the U.S. military community, comprised of active-duty, DoD civilians, contractors, and their families. Unique among the many Department of Defense authorized news outlets, only Stars and Stripes is guaranteed First Amendment privileges that are subject to Congressional oversight…”

  16. How about the CRAZY drivers who live at Clearwood Community and drive absolutely crazy with ZERO regard for the life and limb of the taxpayer neighbors between Clearwood Community and Yelm eveyday. EVERY DAY I get passed in curves with double yellow lines by WACKO Army people intent on killing someone! My neighbors and I are fed up with the very immature, Army wackos who daily try to kill other drivers and also leave TONS of trash along side the road. CLOSE JBLM! And MANY people will be smiling and celebrating!

  17. Mudbone I would venture to say that JBLM was there before you were. I just love all these people who choose to live near a military base then complain about all the things that come with living near a military base. Close JBLM and many people would be happy? Yea lets close the base and all the small businesses that the base supports and ruin the local economy so you can have a more peacful drive to your clearwood community. Makes alot of sense to me.

  18. kawrider1100 says:

    The senior officers, not to be confused with senior leadership, need to be held accountable for the actions of their soldiers. If they paid attention and took action when problems are minor, we’d see less of the behavior described in the article.

  19. bobbysangelwife says:

    Oh my Lord…Yes, we’ve had our issues here a Lewis….we’re not the only ones, we’re just the ones that have been chosen to be highlighted this year it seems. Last time it was Hood, before that it was some Marine base in Leguene, before that it was some place else. And before that it was all the MP’s that were busted for abusing prisoners and taking photos.
    Shoot, we’re no different than any other city in the country. We all have our ‘bad seeds’ and our own problems. It just comes to a brighter light than civilians because we’re a concentrated city and the military. We’re held to a higher standard because we’re military….and our families too.
    75% of our personnel lives OFF post in the surrounding communities and counties. Mudbone….nobody drives with the intent of killing anyone out there. They’re just trying to get to formation and work on time—just like anyone else. Difference between you and the Army guy trying to get to work on time—HE actually will get in trouble for being late. You…get a look from your supervisor and maybe 6 months down the road you get written up.

    And contrary to ignorant belief—WE PAY TAXES just like you do. WE pay STATE, we pay FEDERAL, we pay into SOCIAL SECURITY…..just like civilians do. There is no “free ride” in the military. Many of us are struggling in this economy just like everyone else. Many of us have to decide—pay the bill or feed the household. An E6 makes about $4300/month, take out about $900 in taxes and insurance….split that check in half each month….comes out to about 1600-1700 per payday. We have auto payments, auto insurance, renters insurance, tv/internet/phone/cell(which are REQUIRED for E5 and above), groceries (God help you if you have special dietary needs!), gas, etc.
    Doesn’t leave much left over–if any.

  20. “…WE PAY TAXES just like you do…”
    You brought it up so how much of that $4300 a month do you really pay taxes on? Doesn’t the military still have non taxable housing, food, and uniform allowances? How much do you pay into for something like a 401K retirement plan? How much is paid yearly for dependent medical for one to infinity number of dependents?

    Myself I find it rather disgusting for a military family making $4300 to have the nerve to say there isn’t much left over!

  21. Adam Ashton says:

    KING5 followed up on this report today and drew out this response from the base.

    “We are surprised at Stars and Stripes’ uninformed characterization of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Certainly, a small number of highly visible but isolated episodes have challenged JBLM this past year, in the same way all large communities are challenged by the acts of a few. We are dealing appropriately with those incidents. However, they pale in comparison to the remarkable accomplishments of the bases’ 40,000 service members, 55,000 family members and 15,000 civilian employees, who have contributed so much to the nation and to our surrounding communities. A short list of those accomplishments highlights include preparation, deployment, combat duty and redeployment of 18,000 skilled service members last year; establishment of groundbreaking new programs to support our returning warriors; the successful merger of Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base into what we now know as JBLM; and a multi-billion-dollar construction boom to improve the quality of life and training capabilities of the installation.

    More to the point, JBLM remains one of the Army’s most requested duty assignments. It’s the result of the sterling reputation earned daily by the men and women of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.”

    Here’s the KING5 story.–112680799.html

  22. Hunsaker says:

    I am not surprised at all with some of these “comments” regarding this fine young man and his family. Crap like this “Lefty” guy and other dung who extend some typical left wing – Demoncrat comments demonstrate what Dems are all about – and THEY accuse other of being “hateful”? WAKE UP AMERICA – God bless our troops, every one of them, and vote ALL DEMS and RINOs OUT in 2012!

  23. bobbysangelwife says:

    Coldone……well since you REALLY want to know…out of our paycheck, we pay the following:
    Federal: 99.71, Social Security: 217.04, Medicare: 51.53, State: 101.96.
    Our entire housing (BAH) goes to the company that manages our housing units. This also pays for electrical (as long as we don’t go over the allotted amount monthly), water, and trash. Any comfort items such as internet/phone/cable is paid by us.
    We do have a retirement account…..however there is little paid into that because there isn’t much money left that allows for that.
    Groceries—yes, we do have the Commissary here on post, however the prices are comparable to Safeway/QFC/etc. We prefer to SUPPORT our LOCAL COMMUNITY since we are not residents of this states, rather a guest—by shopping at the local stores.
    Uniform Allowances—is that supposed to be a joke?! $300 every year to replace my husband’s clothing??? LOL!! To replace socks that were basically destroyed on deployment. All 15 of his work shirts that are COVERED in automotive grease and fuel. All of his ACU’s that are faded and stained by automotive grease and fuel. And let’s not forget all the junk he has to keep adding and removing to his Dress Greens because nobody can seem to agree what should be on it or not.
    Let’s move on to Dental and Medical, shall we? Let’s see, now we do have “free” medical….and most of our meds are free. There are some that MAMC doesn’t carry, so into town I must go to get them and pay the co-pay for that. We often must wait 3-4 weeks to get an appointment with a doctor. I have an “appointed” doctor….in the last 3 years—I’ve seen him 4 times….I don’t even think I’ve seen him in the last year, I don’t have time to wait for his schedule to clear so I take whoever’s available. Ever waited in a pharmacy for TWO HOURS, just to get your meds….let me tell you what a fun experience that is–ESPECIALLY during flu season when you’re the only person in that room who DOESN”T have the flu. Oh yeah, this is fun.
    Dental—we pay dental every month just like ‘normal’ people do. Most folks go a few times a year. We go every month for one reason or another. We have an cap of $1500/year, and once we go over that (per person), we pay full price for work done. So my 16 y/o is now waiting for some work to be done because she went over the Cap.
    Let’s see, what else…..oh, we have car payments like most folks. We pay for gas—pretty much the same price on post as Shell/Texaco/etc. No discount there unless you have a Star Card (credit card). Then you save .5cents, .20 on a major holiday season or whenever they decide they want to do that.
    Insurance on vehicles—we pay an outrageous amount in this state because people up here DON’T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE PROPERLY….so we pay for it. Never been in an accident until I moved here—was in 2 of them within the first year!
    We have cell phones that must be paid. My husband’s is required because of his rank and responsibilities. So we have that.
    Got a pet, so we pay OUTRAGEOUS vet costs in this state. Unbelievable that a simple cleaning costs people $500-600 in this state! Outrageous!!

    Oh yeah, we’re having a good time up here….only thing that has made this PCS worthwhile—is seeing my family. See, I was partially raised in this state. We moved here after my daddy retired from the Navy to be closer to his daddy who’s health was failing. This is their home though, not mine. PCS time is right around the corner, can’t wait to see where we’re going next. :)

  24. Ontarget says:

    Most of these posters need a checkup from the neck up. What drives the idiotic habits of mind you seem to possess? Is it patchouli-influenced groupthink? Is it too much MSNBC?
    Just curious…

  25. sabbath31 says:

    Hello America,
    I really enjoyed all the comments from all over WA. I am currently stationed in Baghdad and normally work at Ft Lewis. I have worked there since 1994. Before all of you sit back on your self-righteous alters throwing stones at the walls of my glass house let me remind you of something. These folks who have committed these crimes, these soldiers.. they are American citizens who just happen to be stationed at Ft Lewis when they committed their crimes. Which means they are a very small sampling of American Society. So when you throw that stone you are in fact looking in a mirror and the source of the problem is within the social and economic norm that you live in. Its remarkable how you all try to say it must be “Ft Lewis” or it must be the Army allowing this. That is a load of poop. This is simply the perfect storm that happened to come together during a relatively small time frame and get noticed. Last year it was Fort Hood. A few years back it was Ft Bragg. Introspective self analysis is what is needed to find the root cause in our increasingly depraved society. Not finger pointing.

    Signed me as: A proud retired soldier, volunteering in Iraq.

  26. bobbysangelwife says:

    Well said Sabbath!

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