Georgia Voices: Ft. Hood shooting reminder that military, too, has mental health needs
by The Albany Herald
April 17, 2014 12:00 AM | 701 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Investigators may never know exactly why a U.S. soldier, Ivan Lopez, went on a homicidal rampage at Fort Hood, killing three people and wounding 16 more before, when confronted by a military police officer, he turned his gun on himself.

On Thursday, however, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley did make a statement on what most likely was the underlying cause — mental disorder. “We have very strong evidence that he had a medical history that indicates unstable psychiatric or psychological conditions,” Milley told reporters.

Speaking to a U.S. Senate committee, Army Secretary John McHugh said the 34-year-old Lopez “was undergoing a variety of treatments and diagnoses for mental health conditions, ranging from depression to anxiety to some sleep disturbance.”

Lopez, who served in the Puerto Rico National Guard and who had been in the Army since 2008, was prescribed medications to deal with the mental health issues, McHugh said. ...

This is the second deadly shooting at Fort Hood. In 2009, former psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, then an Army major, created an even bigger bloodbath by killing 13 and wounding 32 others. In Hasan’s case, the murders and assaults were steeped in his twisted view of religion. Convicted of the murders, he is awaiting lethal injection. Beside the location, another common element was where Lopez bought the .45-caliber weapon he sneaked on base — the same Guns Galore store where Hasan bought his.

It also follows the Washington Navy Yard shooting in September in which a dozen were slain before police killed the gunman.

These attacks point to two things. One, security at our bases must continually be reviewed and improved. We should ensure their safety, especially on U.S. soil. Second, more needs to be done in the way of treating active military personnel and veterans who are facing mental challenges from their work on behalf of their country. With two long-term wars since Sept. 11, 2001, those who serve in our armed forces have been asked to carry a heavy burden, one that, according to findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leaves them at greater risk for physical and mental problems.

What’s in place is not working as well as it needs to. Getting the proper help for men and women who have placed their health and their lives on the line for our nation needs to be a greater priority for the military, the politicians in Washington and the American people. Those of us who live in freedom because of what our military has done for us should demand it.

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