The Shooting in Fort Hood Awoke Terrible Memories of Recent Tragedies

I couldn't believe what I was hearing yesterday on the news.  A shooter had caused injuries on the Fort Hood military base.  I immediately thought about the tragedy inflicted by then Major Nidal Hassan in 2009.  He killed thirteen people in an outburst that seemed to based on Muslim beliefs that led him to commit this crime.  He actually had completed medical school and was treating soldiers who had returned from Iran and Iraq.  He is paralyzed now and serving a life prison in Fort Leavenworth.

Last year in Washington, thirteen people were killed when Aaron Alexis entered the Washington Navy Yard and unleashed a reign of terror that ended when he was killed in a firefight with first responders.  He was captured on video stalking his potential victims.  Mr. Alexis had been able to access military bases based on his work as a subcontractor on an IT contract with the Navy.  He had been complaining of being stalked and followed by unknown assailants.  He felt that there were some low frequency radio waves affecting his sleep and he might also have had PTSD symptoms.

A frightening statistic that should provoke a need for more awareness among all of us is the current rate of military suicides.  A Business Insider article mentions that almost nineteen hundred soldiers have committed suicide in 2014 alone.  This current rate is not without precedent.  Almost twenty-two veterans a day took their lives in 2009 and 2010.  I wanted my son to enter the military at one point in time.  I can imagine the pain and emptiness that the parents and loved ones of these young people must feel after they took their own lives.  Could more have been done?  What were the warning signs?

Ivan Lopez was a thirty-four year old Iraq war veteran.  He killed three people before ending his own life at the end of a .45 caliber hand gun.  He had sought help for post traumatic stress disorder also.  He left a wife and young daughter to mourn his passing.  The victims in this tragedy were on a base that prepares American troops to defend our life and liberty throughout the world.  How is it that we they cannot let their guard down on one of the largest military bases in the country.  The family members of the thirteen soldiers killed in 2009 are probably still mourning.  Mental health professionals are not fortune tellers.  The stress of war and the images seared in young men and women vets minds must be awful.

I think many of us could have thought about this shooting as a terrorist threat.  News observers could have been preoccupied with the Russian incursion into Ukraine or the continued mystery of Malaysian Flight 370.  We need to pay more attention to the struggles being experienced by our veterans.  When I was younger, I would think of Vietnam and Korean War veterans as older guys who had served long tours.  Now, we have young people in their late teens and early twenties who have been forever changed by live military action.  What happened to the days of serving thirty years and retiring with a nice pension and beginning a second career?  This new reality is sobering.  I wish the families of the victims of this latest tragedy involving veterans peace and Godspeed in the mourning process.  Life can be over in an instant sometimes.  I appreciate everyday.

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