Army Announces Determination in General’s Death
The U.S. Army announced earlier today that it has determined that suicide was the cause of death of Major General John Rossi, the former commander at Ft. Sill.
Maj. Gen. Rossi was found dead July 31 at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, just two days before he was to assume command of Army Space and Missile Defense Command. Rossi was also scheduled to receive a promotion to Lieutenant General simultaneous with his acceptance of command at Redstone.
Rossi, a West Point academy graduate and an air defense artillery officer by training, had just moved to Redstone Arsenal only two weeks earlier, after commanding the Fire Centers of Excellence and Ft. Sill for two years, beginning in June of 2014.
A written statement by the Army on Friday made no mention of what might have prompted Rossi to take his own life. He is the first Army general to commit suicide on active duty since record-keeping began in 2000, according to the Army. Military suicides soared earlier this decade and remain a major source of concern; they typically have affected lower-ranking military members.
The investigation didn’t reveal any factor, such as misconduct or substance abuse, that could have triggered Rossi’s suicide, the statement said. Ironically, a few months before killing himself, Rossi had spoken in March at a conference about suicide in the armed forces, saying: ‘We are ultimately responsible for soldiers both on and off duty.’
The Rossi family issued a statement through the Army expressing thanks for wide support and urging those who may need suicide-prevention help to seek it immediately.
"To the Army, he was Maj. Gen. Rossi," it said. "To us, he was John -- husband, dad."
"We ask for the time and space to grieve in private, and for the Army to continue to better understand suicide, and to help and treat those in need," the family statement added. "For our family, this has been an incredibly painful time, and we ask that you continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers. To all the other families out there, to the man or woman who may be facing challenging times, please seek assistance immediately. Compassionate and confidential assistance is available."
Though General Rossi was only at Fort Sill for two years, he had a huge impact on the community. Community leaders, who consider themselves friends of Rossi, say he truly cared about the Lawton and Fort Sill. Rossi served in the military for 33 years, with tours of duty that included, Iraq, Korea, Germany and Asia, receiving the distinguished service medal, the legion of merit and the bronze star. Prior to his assignment to Ft. Sill, Rossi served as the Director of the Army Quadrennial Defense Review Office in the Pentagon, and was also stationed at Ft. Hood and Ft. Bliss in Texas.
Rossi left behind his wife Liz, three children, Dominic, Maria and Angelina, and a granddaughter, Kylie. Dominic is a captain in the Army.