HOUSTON — Texas, home to both President Bush and his father, now leads the nation in number of troops sent to Iraq. It also leads in the per capita death rate among large states, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Defense Department statistics reveal that more Texans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan than from any other state. About 160,000 active duty service members and 23,161 National Guard troops and reservists from Texas have been sent to the wars in those countries.

Of the 3,210 U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq, 298 were from Texas. Of those, 69 were Houstonians. This means that Texas’ death rate for its troops was 6.7 per half-million citizens, far more on a per capita basis than other large states. California had a death rate of 4.7 and New York’s was 3.7.

Some 2,200 Texans were wounded out of the 22,677 total wounded in the war, according to the Defense Department.

The first casualty in the Iraq war was Staff Sgt. Eric Alva of San Antonio, who stepped on a mine and lost his leg as U.S. troops invaded Iraq from Kuwait on March 19, 2003. The war’s 3,000th death was also from Texas. Spc. Dustin R. Donica, 22, of Spring, Texas, died on New Year’s Day, 2007.

Stories abound in the Houston Chronicle of the suffering of Iraq war veterans and their families as a result of deaths and injuries, both physical and mental. The stress of repeated tours of duty, activation of the National Guard, and little attention to mental problems associated with war duty have taken their toll on people in the military and their families. Children of military personnel have been hit the hardest by absent and/or lost parents.

phill2 @ houston.rr.com