They survived the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. But they did not survive the homecoming. A six-month investigation, which paints the most complete picture yet of what happened to Texas’ Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who died after leaving the military, reveals that an alarmingly high percentage died from prescription drug overdoses, toxic drug combinations, suicide and single-vehicle crashes — a largely unseen pattern of early deaths that federal authorities are failing to adequately track and have been slow to respond to.
Kimberly Mitchell weeps at the grave of her husband, Chad Mitchell, at the Houston National Cemetery on Sept. 11, 2012. Chad, an Iraq War veteran, was one of hundreds of former service members from Texas who has died not in a war zone but after returning home. Chad died of an accidental overdose in 2010.