Debates on base security, mental health rekindled with Ft. Hood shootings

Lt. Gen. Mark Milley

Lt. Gen. Mark Milley gave an update at 9:40 p.m. April 2 on the Fort Hood shooting incident. (Photo: Ft. Hood public information/U.S.Army)

As information trickles out about the gunman who allegedly killed three people and injured 16 others before shooting himself at Ft. Hood (Texas) on Wednesday, debates about base security and mental health have been rekindled.

Bear in mind the narrative may change with time. That has been the case with information on domestic matters under the current administration.

As of a press conference on Wednesday evening, the U.S. Army hadn’t officially identified the gunman.

Various media now identify him as Spc. Ivan Lopez, 34. NBC News said he had served 8 years in the Army National Guard in Puerto Rico. He enlisted in the Army in 2008 and had transferred to Ft. Hood in early 2014.

Lt. Gen. Mark Milley gave an update about the shootings at 9:40 p.m. on Wednesday, saying a soldier assigned to 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) fired shots at individuals in the 1st Medical Brigade area of Ft. Hood. Milley confirmed four, including the shooter, were killed and 16 injured. Milley also said names of the deceased would not be released until 24 hours after next of kin are notified.

By Thursday morning, the Killeen School District had resumed regularly scheduled activities and Ft. Hood had set up chaplain counseling in the Family Life Training Center on base.

The website said the alleged shooter “had mental health problems.”

NBC said Lopez did not see combat duty; he had been stationed in Iraq as U.S. troops were being drawn down, and he worked as a truck driver. He was only in Iraq for about four months. He had done duty overseas, however, before joining the Army. NBC said, “He joined the island National Guard in 1999 and went on a peace and security mission to Egypt in the mid-2000s, a guard spokeswoman told The Associated Press.”

Commenters on various Web articles pointed out the necessity of permitting more soldiers to carry loaded weapons on base, with some who served in the military saying that isn’t a good idea.

The shooter didn’t follow rules for personal weapons established by Ft. Hood.

Assaults on military installations draw attention to security matters for more reasons than the ongoing war on the West by Islamist extremists. Weaponry and data are stored on these bases, and breaches represent a serious threat to national security.

After the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, the same debate about base security ensued. By the time the government issued official reports detailing numerous warning signs the shooter, Aaron Alexis, had serious mental issues, media had lost interest in the topic. The reports should have sparked widespread concern, however, because those shootings were preventable and many warning signs were acknowledged even by the military familiar with Alexis’ problems.

(Analysis by Kay B. Day/April 3, 2014)

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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