Three soldiers assigned to Fort Wainwright, Alaska, have died so far this year. One was found dead in his off-post home, another in his company arms room, and another died of his injuries a week after being found in his on-post home.
Though causes of death have not been released, all three soldiers were found alone and early reports did not indicate foul play.
Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young has asked, in a letter to Army surgeon general Lt. Gen. Nadja West, to send a team to Wainwright to investigate deaths of soldiers.
“As the number of military suicides continues to climb in Alaska, it is clear that the battle is far from over,” he wrote in the letter dated Tuesday. “Therefore, I request that you send [an Army Medical Command] team to Fort Wainwright to examine the situation on the ground and provide us and the installation with solutions for a path forward.”
The letter does not specifically mention names.
Deaths at Wainwright this year that have been under investigation and unexplained include: Sgt. Jorden Williams, a working dog handler found dead in his off-post home in January; Spc. Ashvin Slaughter, whose body was discovered in his company arms room later that month; and Sgt. Brian Sawyer, who was discovered in his on-post home and transferred to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, before dying of his injuries.
Additionally, in September 2018, another Fort Wainwright soldier, Pvt. Mason Jeremiah Heimer, was found dead in his truck at a nearby campground parking lot, a week after he had gone missing. The following month, a Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson soldier, Sgt. Andrew Washington was found dead in his Anchorage home.
Officials have not publicly stated that these specific deaths are suicides. But unexplained deaths are raising concerns.
“Like the rest of America, the Army continues to grapple with suicide," U.S. Army Alaska spokesman John Pennell said in a statement. "While the Army has made progress, more work needs to be done. Preventing suicides is an Army priority, and anything that can be done to further that priority and reduce the risk of suicide is welcome.”
“As you are well aware, the military-veteran community is an extremely tightknit group,” Young wrote. “This is especially true in Alaska, which has made these deaths particularly alarming for the local community, and has raised many questions about the health and well-being of our service members.”
A spokesman for Army Medical Command could not confirm whether West had read the letter or was planning a response, as of Friday.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.