Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Bullying in the army

Soldier Kills Himself After Alleged Abuse
Aug. 23, 2009

When Adrian Wilhelm learned that his son committed suicide just four days into his deployment in Iraq, he knew right away that the facts didn't add up.
His son, 19-year-old Pvt. Keiffer Wilhelm, had been excited and upbeat just weeks earlier as he prepared to ship overseas. He was planning to buy a new car. He was exercising diligently, shedding at least 20 pounds in time for boot camp.

Then, suddenly, he was dead. Now his family is struggling to process the stunning news that four of Wilhelm's fellow soldiers stand accused of abusing him and other soldiers in his platoon with excessive physical fitness and cruelty before his death.

"They just acted like they were a bunch of street hoods," Adrian Wilhelm said from his home in Plymouth, Ohio. "They thought they were above the law."

The soldiers have been charged with cruelty and maltreatment of subordinates, among other charges...

Wilhelm died Aug. 4 of a gunshot wound to the head in Maysan province in southern Iraq.

...Adrian Wilhelm says he's read that his son was forced to crawl in the dirt until his legs bled, and that he was harassed about his weight...

A portrait of a young, idealistic soldier devoted to the Army began to emerge from interviews with family and friends in the small northern Ohio town where Wilhelm grew up. A high school wrestler who battled weight issues, Wilhelm worked hard to get in shape before his deployment...

"Keiffer was the most non-threatening person you would ever want to meet," she said. "I just don't think he was ready for the brutality from his own troops."...

[Maura Larkins comment: Being non-threatening is probably one of the most common traits of people who are bullied. Bullies think they can get away with it because their target will not fight back.]

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