My heart grieves over yesterday’s shootings at Ft. Hood, America’s largest Army base. As I understand it now, sixteen were injured, three were killed plus the shooter – Ivan Lopez – who shot and killed himself after being confronted by a female police officer. End of story?
Had this horrible situation happened two days earlier, we would have thought it was an April Fools joke. A bad one, but a joke because we all know this couldn’t happen – again – at Ft. Hood or any other military base. After all, weren’t specific criteria put in place four and one half years ago after the massacre created by Islamist Hasan? We were told this could never happen again – but it has happened. Again.
Actually, we should be asking ourselves where this story begins. A 34 year old married man and father just starts shooting? An Army man – a soldier – who took the voluntary oath to protect and defend, has suddenly become a murderer? What went wrong.
The news is replete with reports of Lopez having ‘self-reported’ that he had received a traumatic brain injury while serving in Iraq – his second deployment – for only four months. Apparently, the Army didn’t put much credence into this report since he hadn’t seen “field battle” but merely served as a truck driver.
What about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? How can you get that from merely driving a truck? Could it be that each mile he drove he worried about hitting an IED – Improvised Explosive Device – that could horribly maim, paralyze or kill him leaving his family in desperate straights? Why wouldn’t he worry about that, being a husband and father. Surely all of our soldiers think of such hideous situations and wonder if they are the next one to experience the sudden explosion then the silence.
Lopez had enough self-knowledge to know he was ‘in trouble’ psychologically and he went for help. It’s my understanding there is a ‘stain’ that is put on your military record if you admit you are having PTSD or a similar disorder; but, he manned up and went for help. According to the reports, he was on several drugs one of which was Ambien!
I’ve never taken Ambien but I know of people who have and, in every case I’ve heard of, the experience has not been positive. My friend’s husband had gone to another state to take care of his father’s final arrangements. After an exhausting, emotional day, he was both physically and emotionally exhausted so he took an Ambien and went to bed. The next thing he remembered was waking up in a hospital ICU unit. He had gone out in the middle of the night, driven his car, had a bad accident and totaled his car. Thankfully, it was a one-car accident – it could have been much worse – today, he is well and back at living life to it’s fullest. But…!
There have been reports that Lopez was transferred from another base to Ft. Hood. No one came out and said it, but the implication was that he was transferred to Ft. Hood because he did self-report and that base wanted to be free of him. Isn’t that interesting. If you don’t like what a soldier is doing, you just pass him on to another command unit. Rumors are that is the same thing that happened with Hasan prior to his jihad at Ft. Hood. Just move the soldier out and sweep the dirt under the carpet – is that the way our military is being run these days?
When will anyone in America, be it military or any other field, quit passing the buck and adopt the old fashioned idea that “the buck stops here.” It requires people who are not afraid to be politically INcorrect, to stand up to the system and say, “There is a problem.”
God help our soldiers, certainly their commanding officers aren’t helping them. I don’t think these men and women who report with PTSD are wimps – I think they are saying they need help in dealing with things they’ve seen and experienced that are too horrible for words. Can we not help them without stamping some kind of a label on them? Surely this country is still big enough to do that – or have we been whittled down to the point that we can’t help anyone but ourselves?
To those who have been wounded in these hideous, unfortunate, horrible attacks at Ft. Hood and on other bases, our hearts go out to you. May God help you heal – in every aspect of the word – and recover completely from this tragedy. For those families who lost loved ones on this day, may God hold you in the palm of His hands, bring you peace and comfort in the wonderful memories of your loved one. We are so sorry.
As for those who prescribe pills to hide what is really wrong, shame on you. You are as responsible in this case as the one who pulled the trigger. He came to you for help – he wanted help. You gave him drugs. Shame on you.
And to the commanding officers who pass soldiers on to ‘other bases’ because you don’t want a mark on your record, shame on you. When I think of a military officer I think of John Wayne who so brilliantly played leadership roles and who was never afraid to stand up to those who didn’t do things right. That’s what I want in my military leadership – I don’t want someone that is afraid of his own shadow or a smudge on his record. Shame on you. Where is your leadership? This isn’t about guns. It’s about a failure to lead.
With this I say, May God bless and protect America since we no longer seem to have the capability to protect ourselves. Sad. Very sad.