The Madeleine Brand Show for March 12, 2012

Criticism of McChord Lewis Base increases after recent Afghan killings

Soldiers From Joint Base Lewis-McChord Return Home From Iraq, As US Pullout Continues

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Soldiers turn in their weapons to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

The name of the US solider accused of shooting unarmed civilians in Afghanistan hasn't been released. It's been revealed though, that he is a 38-year old staff sergeant, serving his first tour in Afghanistan. Previously, he served three tours in Iraq.

He's a married father of two, and his home base is in Washington State, at Lewis McChord, about 45 miles south of Seattle. This same base was home to four members of a Stryker brigade who were sent to prison for forming a civilian kill team in Afghanistan, which killed civilians for sport.

Jorge Gonzalez, former soldier based at McChord, joins the show to discuss the recent killings and what they say about the Lewis McChord base.

Gonzalez now runs a resource center Coffee Strong, which serves veterans near the base. He has labeled the facility as dysfunctional and a "rogue base." Gonzalez is pushing for a congressional investigation of its practices.

"Some of the soldiers are not surprised... they saw this coming .. its kind of normal now ... eventually something like this was going to happen, again."

Gonzalez attributes post traumatic stress syndrome, a rise in suicide numbers, alcohol abuse and the specific management at Lewis McChord as the factors that led to the recent killings, pointing especially to the "lack of treatment at the medical center."


Jorge Gonzalez is executive director of GI Voice/Coffee Strong.

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