Uncounted Casualties

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.

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Lance Pilgrim, an Army veteran who was among the first soldiers deployed to Iraq in 2003, died of an overdose Aug. 18, 2007 - just six days before his 27th birthday. He wrote this letter before his death, detailing how he had gone from loving his job to being 'nothing' in just a few months.

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Kevin Miller of Milton, NY, visits the grave of his brother, Afghanistan veteran Clint Dickey, at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen on Friday August 3, 2012.

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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.

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