Stress May Be Linked to Army Wives' Killings

The 50,000 soldiers at Fort Bragg and their families want to believe the killings are an awful coincidence: four soldiers who lost their cool in one six week period.

The four victims are all military wives. Teresa Nieves. Marilyn Griffin. Jennifer Wright. Andrea Floyd. Investigators say their soldier husbands murdered them all. Two of the soldiers also killed themselves.

What now greatly concerns the Army is that three of the men were part of an elite force of fighters who had recently returned from the war in Afghanistan.

Retired Col. David Hackworth, a veteran of three wars, believes the men brought the fighting home.

"Let's take the special operations soldiers," he said. "They perform secretive missions that are high stress, and then they come home and can't talk about it with their wives."

"When you add the violence of fighting, returning home under these circumstances can be a problem," he added.

Offered Counseling May Not Be Enough

With a growing number of soldiers returning from war, and returning to their lives, there is serious concern that the decompression they get is not enough.

The Pentagon is now determining whether the counseling services it offers soldiers and their families before and after duty are enough. To make matters worse, no matter what improvements are made, there are some who believe the changes may not fix the problem.

At least one organization that represents military families says the Department of Defense will always have a hard time getting soldiers to take advantage of counseling services.

Joyce Raezer, of the National Military Family Association says soldiers, such as those in the most well regarded units at Fort Bragg, are reluctant to ask for assistance.

"I think sometime service members believe their career can be affected by seeking help," she said, "In parts of the military, there is a stigma attached to seeking help."

Transition from War to Home Proves Difficult

Bobby and Lori Tucker acknowledge the resistance and say, regardless, the transition from the battleground to the home front will never be easy for families. He's a Gulf War veteran. She was home alone.

"They tried to give us classes on that," he said. "I think that probably might have helped some, but, still, it's not the same home you left six months ago."

"I know it's rough for the wives," explained Lori Tucker, "especially if they have children and [she] had to run the home."

For its part, Fort Bragg has tried to add more context to the murders. Each of the families had troubles, officials report, even before the units here left for the fighting.

Were the murders the result of military stresses? The base says no. There were no other strings of killings at any other U.S. military installation.

The base does report there has been an increase in the request for stress and anger management sessions since the Sept. 11 attacks. But authorities also say that for now, of the four soldiers accused of murder, only one asked for any extra help.