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The Ft. Hood Tragedy: What can We Learn?

By Rachel Stockton 

In the past year, FC has reported on the troubling statistics regarding post-traumatic stress disorder among returning troops.  The shooting rampage this past week at Fort Hood invigorates the entire issue with a renewed sense of urgency.

When the war in Iraq began, the National Guard made history; never before had members of the Guard been called to combat.  The result of shipping them overseas to Iraq was a lack of readiness, not only militarily and procedurally speaking, but psychologically as well.

Then, more and more soldiers returned for second, third and fourth tours of duty.  Not even injury has prevented the re-deployment of many troops.  They are sent home to heal, then are sent right back into the fray.

So Many Questions

There have been some legitimate questions surrounding the entire, horrific episode that will need to be addressed:

*The shooter, Nidal Malik Hassan, was a psychiatrist who treated soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Shouldn’t he have recognized that he needed as much help as his patients did?

Not really.  According to the American Psychiatric Association, becoming a mental health care provider doesn’t mean that the person treating others for emotional and psychological problems is an icon of sense and sensibility, or even stability, for that matter.  Some of them are drawn to the profession because they themselves recognize that all is not well within them; among physicians, psychiatrists are the most likely to attempt suicide.

*What role did Hassan’s religion play in the rampage?  Not a whole heck-of-a-lot.  As many Muslim groups throughout the country have attested to, this horrific act of violence is in direct contrast to legitimate teachings of Islam.

No one really asked that question regarding the anti-abortion shooter who abhorrently and in cold blood shot an abortion provider in Kansas.  The fact that he believed God wanted him to save the unborn didn’t cause us to question the Christian faith, in general.  It’s imperative that we don’t allow panic and distress distort our reasoning in this instance, either.

The Real Issues

These questions tend to redirect our focus from what is truly the point in all of this.  Houston, we have a problem, of truly mammoth proportions.  Since the beginning of the Iraq war, military analysts have been reporting that Americans are not really engaged in this war.  They see it as a “military” conflict only; they have become detached, and the military sees this.

Hopefully, Hassan’s outburst will open our eyes to the fact that we need to “re-attach” ourselves long enough to realize that we owe it to the men and women of the armed forces to help them recover from horrors they have witnessed.  We should never forget the truism spoken by Lincoln nearly 150 years ago:  “War is all hell.”