Five senators are calling on the Department of Defense to investigate overdose deaths at Fort Bragg, reports Rolling Stone.
The news outlet in early September reported that a total of 109 soldiers assigned to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, active and reserve, died in 2020 and 2021 from drug overdoses.
The letter, sent to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday by Sens. Edward Markey, Elizabeth Warren, Lisa Murkowski, John Cornyn, and Martin Heinrich, posed six questions to the Pentagon, starting with, "How many active military service members overdosed from January 1, 2017 to present?"
"In light of this disturbing trend," the letter reads, "we write seeking a full understanding of the pattern of overdoses."
Markey, D-Mass., is spearheading the oversight effort.
"The recent reports of fatal drug overdoses out of military installations like Fort Bragg are alarming," Markey said in a statement to Rolling Stone. "We need answers, and we need solutions."
"I'm calling on the Department of Defense to account for these deaths," he continued, "and to give us a plan of action for safeguarding the active-duty service members who keep Americans safe."
The questions include:
- Of fatal overdoses, how many were ruled a suicide? Accidental?
- What substances were involved in both fatal and non-fatal overdoses?
- More generally, how many active duty service members had traces of misused prescription medication or illicit drugs in their system at the time of death?
- What protocol is in place to identify and respond to an uptick in overdoses either generally or at a specific military installation?
- What is the protocol for informing family in the event of an overdose, including non-fatal overdoses?
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