A two-star general who was found dead in his Alabama home committed suicide, according to the Army.
Major General John Rossi, 55, died on July 31 at the Redstone Arsenal military base near Huntsville, two days before he was to be put in charge of the Army’s space and missile defense command.
The Army announced on Friday it had determined the cause of death to be suicide. Rossi is the first Army general to commit suicide on active duty since record-keeping began in 2000, according to the Army.
Rossi, a West Point academy graduate and an air defense artillery officer by training, had just moved onto Redstone Arsenal.
He had a wife, Liz, three children, Dominic, Maria and Angelina, and a granddaughter named Kylie. Dominic is a captain in the Army.
Rossi was scheduled to be promoted to lieutenant general when he took over the space and missile defense command.
A written statement by the Army on Friday made no mention of what might have prompted Rossi to take his own life.
A US government official close to the investigation told USA Today that it seemed that Rossi was overwhelmed by his responsibilities.
The investigation didn’t reveal any factor, such as misconduct or substance abuse, that could have triggered Rossi’s suicide, the official said.
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 Major General Rossi. To us, he was John — husband, dad,’ the family wrote.
‘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.
‘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.’
Rossi served in the United States, Iraq, Korea, Germany and Asia, according to his obituary.
He received the distinguished service medal, the legion of merit and the bronze star.
At home, Rossi was a New York Mets and Giants fan and an ‘espresso connoisseur’ who liked to offer his friends a brew.
‘A true family man, he loved being a husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, cousin and friend,’ the obituary read.
‘He was a hero to our country, and will forever remain a hero in our hearts.’
The question is: Did he know something? Was it really a suicide? These are interesting times folks. Pray and stay focused on God.