NBC is reporting: “The gunman in the Fort Hood shooting was an active-duty enlisted soldier who served four months in Iraq and was being evaluated for PTSD, military officials said Wednesday night.”
MATT HOWARD, mattwhoward at ivaw.org, @ivaw
Howard is communications director for Iraq Veterans Against the War, which recently organized the People’s Hearing on the Lasting Impact of the Iraq War, see righttoheal.org. The group will be releasing a report centered around Fort Hood on Memorial Day (May 26) tentatively titled “Operation Recovery: Testimony from Fort Hood.”
Howard spent three months at Fort Hood in 2012. He said today: “During our time organizing at Fort Hood we discovered they had a base policy that mandated against commanders overriding doctors orders to deploy troops with PTSD, TBI [traumatic brain injury], etc. but that commanders were in fact doing so regularly.
“Some of the issues our report highlights include the legacy of multiple deployments where troops are deploying and medicated (sometimes with psychotropic drugs). In Fort Hood, they have a drive-through pharmacy that has five or six lanes with the bank teller suction machines. Long story short there is a lot of need for mental health support and not enough help.”
DRAKE LOGAN, drakepurple at gmail.com
Logan is with the Civilian-Soldier Alliance, which “works with veterans and active-duty service-members to build a GI resistance movement towards a just foreign policy.” She is an author of the forthcoming report and has spent several months in Fort Hood the last two years.
She said today: “This story is obviously heartbreaking, and enraging given all we know about how mental health issues — and physical health issues — are actively ignored, neglected, stigmatized, and punished.
“While the major news agencies initially reported the shooting as an issue of ‘base security’ and ‘gun control,’ those of us who have been paying attention to the effects of multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the military’s long legacy of overriding soldier’s medical and mental health needs, know that the issue is much deeper.
“Through our testimony collection at Fort Hood and accompanying original research we have documentation of the system of abuse and neglect of health care needs at that base, with much evidence that the situation elsewhere on other U.S. posts are similar. The situation at Fort Hood (and nationally) is upheld by a system of policies which allow for commander discretion over medical and mental health needs; informally allow doctors to prescribe ‘band-aid’ prescriptions instead of providing real treatment; and ignore the need to enforce their own policies against stigmatizing health care needs. That system of policies includes base/command policies, Department of Army policies, and Department of Defense policies.
“Notably, Fort Hood has had a command policy in place for at least three years now which orders commanders to obey doctor’s orders as to soldier’s work restrictions (including whether or not they should deploy) instead of taking these as ‘recommendations.’ With no enforcement or accountability measures in place, this policy is violated rampantly.”
The forthcoming report was done in conjunction with Under the Hood Cafe & Outreach Center which is a community space for soldiers and veterans.
Note: Producers may wish to use George Carlin video on Shell Shock and PTSD