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Soldier confesses to murdering wife

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A 25-year-old Fort Hood soldier confessed to murdering his wife.

Tye Van Swearingen initially told authorities he argued with his wife Stephanie, 23, and she left their home. He reported her missing after a couple of days.

Then, he told Killeen police that he killed his wife last Saturday. Swearingen admitted to burying her in an existing grave in Live Oak Cemetery the next day.

He directed the detectives to the location of the grave where her body was found.

The soldier confessed Wednesday and was charged with murder. He remains behind bars.

On-post domestic violence

While the circumstances of the Swearingen case are not known, violence often erupts in military families. The pressures of training and combat can create a battlefield at home, but Fort Hood soldiers have always had access to mental health care.

The emotions of the battlefield are hard to turn off when soldiers return home, counselors say.

“Accusations of what's gone on, fears of affairs, debt, other kinds of things where the person that's been gone feels like they're out of control” are common clinical issues, social worker Warren Townsend said.

Those unchecked emotions inside a soldier can be hidden from the family and an active-duty spouse may explode, if the other had an affair or runs the family differently than before.

Active-duty spouses face a double-edged sword. They fear admitting their problems to superiors for fear of discharge, social workers say, but without help, their problems usually escalate.

A couple of years ago, the military realized it needed to loosen the strings on mental healthcare and allowed soldiers to seek confidential help. The military contracts with agencies like Military OneSource that employs Townsend.

"They now will let a soldier have antidepressants and remain on station and his duty," Townsend said.

Some still fear word might get out, Townsend said.

But with the recent spate of active-duty domestic violence in Central Texas, counselors hope those who need help are able to find it.

Military OneSource is available to all branches of the military.

The services offerst the Military Homefront Web page, which offers information on everything from parenting advice to financial tips. The military also has the Family Advocacy Program, which is for military families in abusive situations.

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