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Connie Lawn: Shootings in Fort Hood, Texas

Shootings in Fort Hood, Texas


November 6, 2009
by Connie Lawn in Washington

Fort Hood Texas has suffered one of the worst tragedies in its turbulent history. An Army psychiatrist opened fire, killing at least 13 other soldiers until he was shot multiple times. At this writing, he is said to be in stable condition. He also wounded 30 others. Heroic actions by other soldiers saved their lives. The doctor is a Major, identified as Major Nidal Malik Hasan, nearly 40 years old. A man identified as his cousin says he was born in Virginia and is a loyal American. He was educated in many places, including Virginia Tech (which has had its share of tragic shootings), National Naval Medical Center, and Walter Reed Army Hospital. His expertise is in mental health disorders, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, or PTSD. The Major had been vocal in his criticism of the wars in the Mideast. He had hired a lawyer, and tried to get discharged from the Army. He reportedly did not want to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Reports are flying as fast as bullets, and there are more questions than answers. Some reports say he was angry at the Army, and suffered harassment by other soldiers. Police say he killed the 13 with semi automatic guns, but investigators want to learn if others are involved. All U.S. Military bases are on a special state of alert, in the event a terrorist conspiracy is involved. Fort Hood is one of the largest U.S. Military bases in the world, with about 53,000 soldiers and family living on base. Another 10,000 come and go from the nearby cities. Like any big city, Ft. Hood has its share of crime, and some drug and gang violence.

About 43,000 soldiers have been deployed to war zones from Ft. Hood. Those who return alive expect to come home to peace and security on the base. Many of those returning suffer from physical and mental injuries, and try to recuperate on the base. They never expected such a tragedy at home, in a guarded and protected military base. And they never expected an Army mental health doctor to turn on them.

President Obama shares the sadness of the nation. He called it “a horrific outburst of violence.” The President said it is doubly horrifying that soldiers came under fire on a U.S. Base on American soil.”

It is not known if this tragedy will affect President Obama’s decision to possibly send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. But one of the main subjects of debate is the factor of stress on the troops. Many have endured multiple deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan. It is possible this tragedy will increase American opposition to the buildup, and that in turn could have an impact on the President.

- Connie Lawn in Washington

*************

Connie Lawn has a passionate love for NZ. She worked for Radio New Zealand for 20 years, and then for Radio Live for a few years. Connie has covered the White House and the world since 1968. Her other passion is skiing, and she calls herself "the skiing White House reporter." Her ski stories are on dcski.com and other outlets. Connie is also heard on thousands of radio stations, but firmly believes the internet is the future. She can be reached at connie@scoop.co.nz

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