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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — The recent death of a soldier prompted U.S. Forces Korea’s top commander to send a message this week reminding people to watch out for depression, abuse of drugs or alcohol and other concerns.

The soldier was found dead in his barracks room, said Gen. B.B. Bell’s message, which noted that the cause of death remains under investigation. The soldier had been in the Army less than a year.

Pvt. Gristen Buttrey, 23, was an ammunition specialist with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, officials told Stars and Stripes on Tuesday. He is survived by his parents, Troy and Pamela Buttrey of Skiatook, Okla.

Bell’s message to the USFK community reminded everyone to be alert to signs of depression and suicidal thoughts among friends, especially during the holidays.

“Many of our servicemembers will be separated from loved ones during this holiday season,” Bell wrote in his “Bell Sends” message, which he puts out periodically through USFK’s Web site. “Extended periods of separation can lead to depression, alcohol and substance abuse, and even suicide. Commanders and supervisors at all levels must review wellness issues and be alert to indicators.”

The message urged people in need to contact a friend, a chaplain or a commander.


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