Sunday, November 08, 2009

Wrapping My Mind Around The Murders At Fort Hood

Fort Hood, Texas, the largest military installation in the world, a place that will always hold fond memories for me. It’s a place that I called home for almost 4 years and a place that’s in mourning. Part of my family is at Fort Hood, not a family related through blood, but my family none the less, because the friends that I made there, are and always will be family to me. Fort Hood will always be my home. Thanks Flag Gazer for posting the pictures you did of Fort Hood. They bring back so many fond memories.

Right now, I feel so helpless, I feel like I let my family at Fort Hood down, because I wasn’t there with them when this tragedy occurred. I wasn’t there to offer my comfort and support to them, though I was able to do so, via phone calls, emails and text messages. Yet I still feel guilty, because I wasn’t there. I feel that I could have assisted with the wounded, due to my training as a Paramedic. But I wasn’t there. So, I’ll do what I can from here in Kansas. I’m already working on getting people together here to do what we can to help. I still feel though that somehow that’s not enough.

Why did this horrible tragedy happen there at Fort Hood on Thursday November 5, 2009? That’s a question we may never have all the answers to. But I do know that if anyone will find out the answer to that question, it will be Army CID at Fort Hood and the FBI professionals who are currently working this case. I know that the Army and the US Government have the best of the best there, trying to piece this all together. The very best that the Army has to offer is right there at Fort Hood working as CID agents. I know this, because in my job as Victim Advocate at Fort Hood, I was privileged to be able to work very closely with CID on many of my cases. They do their job and they do it well. They do not rush through a crime scene haphazardly and do their jobs half assed. Instead, they take their time, putting all the pieces together and building their case, so that it’s a solid one that will stand up in court. They will work themselves to the point of sheer exhaustion when they’re working a case. I’ve seen them do it many times. I expect no less of them in this case. They’re true professionals in every sense of the word. They hate when a fellow Soldier does something that soils the name of their beloved Army and they do everything in their power to ensure that criminals in the Army find out that crime does not pay on Fort Hood.

There were so many Heroic actions that day. Most have not even came to light yet and some might never be known to us. Police Officer Kimberly Munley for instance. The police officer who risked her life to put an end to Hasan’s rampage. In putting an end to his murderous rampage, she herself was shot. She is a true Hero, and like most Hero’s she’ll be the first to say that she was only doing what she was trained to do. It’s been reported that as the events unfolded, Soldiers were seeing ripping off parts of their clothing to use as bandages for the wounded. Footage has shown many of them assisting emergency workers in carrying wounded to waiting ambulances and vehicles. We’ve heard of the young female Soldier who ripped off parts of her top to form tourniquet for a fellow wounded Soldier, despite the fact that she was wounded herself. Or the young Soldier who was in his pickup in the parking lot nearby when he the commotion. He responded, saying people who were wounded and shouted for them to jump in his pickup. He then sped 5 of the wounded to the hospital there on post. He says he’s not a Hero, he was doing his jobIt’s likely we’ll hear more and more stories like this as the days go by. There is no doubt in my mind that there were many equally heroic actions that happened that day. Each of our Soldiers are Heroes in my eyes. None ever thought that they’d have to perform such actions at home, a place where they are supposed to be safe and free from harm. But somehow, the unthinkable happened at Fort Hood on Thursday. Something that will likely live in the minds of Americans for many years to come.

That brings us to the cowardly, crazed lunatic who committed these murders. We may never know his true intentions or motives behind his horrific actions. He may never speak or tell authorities his motive behind this senseless atrocity. Often people like him don't. Some people claim this was a terrorist act. I’ll reserve judgment on that at the moment, as all of the facts are not in and many of the things being said in the media have not been verified by Law Enforcement officials at the moment. A few facts about him have surfaced and I’m sure many more will as the investigation continues. What we do know is that Nidal Malik Hasasn was a Major in the US Army and was at Fort Hood serving as a Psychiatrist, someone who was there to help Soldiers who were dealing with issues from the wars and other problems. We know that he was facing an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan and he was not happy about this. He reportedly didn’t agree with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We know that he was of Palestinian descent, both of his parents having immigrated to the United States. We know that prior to coming to Fort Hood, Hasan served at Walter Reed Army Medical center and that he apparently had some discipline problems while he was there. We’re hearing conflicting stories about this man. Some are already trying to say he was suffering from secondary PTSD. To that supposition I say, Bull Shit. I’ve worked in Law Enforcement, EMS, as a counselor and as a Victim Advocate over the course of my adult life. I’ve heard and seen many horrific things, yet I’ve not snapped. Nor have countless other professionals in these fields. Claiming secondary PTSD is just providing this cowardly, evil, crazy man with an alibi and that pisses me off. That’s an excuse that I won’t buy, ever! Let’s call it was it is: a coward who didn’t want to deploy and so he figured that” suicide by cop” would be the best way out. His actions leading up to this event point to that. It’s common for those who commit suicide, to act fairly calm and rational in the days and moments leading up to taking their lives. He followed the typical pattern that is often seen. They begin to say their good byes to family and friends, which Hasan reportedly did. They begin giving away their belongings, as Hasas reportedly did. I don’t think he felt he would survive what he planned on doing. I’m sure he felt that he would be shot and killed at the hands of one of Fort Hood’s fine police officers. He was shot alright, but he remains alive to answer to his crimes. It’s my hope that he’s given the death penalty, he deserves no less.

Did the Army drop the ball when it came to Hasan? Probably so, but we probably will never know all the details about their decision to send him to Fort Hood and allow him to continue serving in the Army, to give him a second chance. I’m sure, knowing the shortage of Mental Health Professionals in the military at this time, that this had a lot to do with their decision to give him a second change. I also know that this happens a lot with problem Soldiers. I’ve seen it in my job, where a problem Soldier will be transferred to another unit, for a second chance. I can think of a case where this happened and like Hasan the Soldier continued to commit horrible acts, before he was eventually discharged. Perhaps the Army needs to take another look at that, in light of what has happened.

I don’t like what I’m seeing in the media and in my fellow Americans at the moment. I’ve heard many people state that all people of Middle Eastern descent are Muslims and that they should be removed from the military. That angers me, because I know several Soldiers who are of Middle Eastern descent, where at least one of their parents are from a Middle Eastern country. I’ve seen them honorably serve in the Army and know personally that they are not Muslim and abhor what has happened. I’ve heard comments made that all people of Middle Eastern descent should be rounded up and imprisoned. That frightens me for this country. Mass hysteria is at a peak. Are we going to begin acting like the radical Muslims act, hating those who are not like us? I certainly hope not. Are we going to begin ostracizing people based on their heritage? I hope not, because Hasan does not define every person of Middle Eastern descent, nor does he define every Muslim. We have to be careful about how we react to this, so that more senseless tragedies don’t occur. We’ve had enough senseless tragedy and I pray we won’t have more.


Flag Gazer said...

As you know, you were one of the first people I thought of when the news first started trickling in... and, I thought of the soldiers I knew who served there. The closer we are to something, the more personal it is.

Unlike you, I have not heard one word about 'Muslims' and those from the middle east - you aren't painting a very pleasant picture of Kansas and what news are you watching that is inciting violence? The people I know are focused on the person who did this, and their comments are person specific. Are we a diverse country with people of many thoughts (or lack there of)? - indeed we are. But, I haven't seen any rioting in the streets or attacks on anyone or heard anyone encourage the things you suggest are happening.

One man committed a heinous act of terror - many are suffering for it. I see no attempts to retaliate at anything larger, though all of us would like answers we may or may not get. Although, if early reports about this man are correct, the Army has some explaining to do...

Terri said...

Actually most of what I'm hearing isn't from people here in Kansas, but people online who I've had contact with. Most everyone I'm talking to here in Kansas are focused on the victims and their hopes that this evil monster gets the death penalty. No we're not seeing rioting in the streets (thank God) but a lot of people are making statements and comments that truly frighten me. I've seen people already on facebook and other places refer to Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent as 'sand n......, camel jockeys' and state unequivocally that they feel they should all be imprisoned and removed from the military. I know situations like this often bring out the lunatics who make all kinds of crazy comments. I just pray that attitude doesn't catch on.

Terri said...

I should also say, that those on my facebook, who were making those kinds of comments are no longer on my friends list.

Flag Gazer said...

I haven't seen that - they wouldn't be on my lists either - idiots.

Buck said...

I too have seen some, but not a lot, Islam-bashing in comments of the blogs I frequent. I haven't encountered any racial slurs or comments to the effect of "throw 'em all out"... just generalized "war of civilizations" and "Religion of peace, my ass" sorts of things.

I'm withholding labeling Hasan's act as terrorism until such time as there might be some "connect the dots" activity... like a proved affiliation with a known terrorist organization or other such radical association. That said, I also acknowledge that ONE individual acting alone can qualify as a terrorist, by definition.

Terri said...

They certainly didn't last long on mine, but that is the behavior that scares the hell out of me. Unfortunately the media continues to make assumptions based on only bits and pieces of information, some of that information, possibly not even true.

I have the utmost faith in the law enforcement professionals who are handling this case. I know most of them and have had the pleasure of working with them. I know their professionalism and their dedication to their jobs, so I know that they will investigate this case thoroughly and provide an airtight case for prosecutors. They're the best of the best, and I don't say that lightly. It's the truth. Eventually the entire story, or as much as they're able to gather will come to light. Hopefully before then, the media won't blow things too out of proportion.

Terri said...

One group page on Facebook, made it quickly off of my list when I posted the information about the moment of silence that was held on Friday. Their comment immediately that they would NOT participate in that, as it wasn't announced as a moment of prayer. As I told them, due to the fact that we're blessed in this country to worship as we see fit, and whatever religion who choose, that the moment of silence allowed everyone to reflect on the tragedy in the manner in which they saw fit and pay respect to the fallen Heroes. They stated that they would instead use that time to proclaim loudly their feelings about the state of our government. Their lack of respect for the fallen told me quickly, that they were not a group I wished to be affiliated with.