Friday, November 6, 2009

No safe place

Yesterday, I went for a walk in the park with 2 new friends. As we walked, a soldier was turning a weapon onto his own brothers and sisters. And it was not in the desolate cliffs of Afghanistan or even the middle of the desert. It was on American soil, on a well-known base. It could have been Camp LeJeune or Ft. Jackson or Ft. Campbell. But it wasn't. Ft. Hood is home to the 1st Calvary Division, the 1st Army Division West, and the 13th Sustainment Command...and many families, as well as soldiers passing through. Ft. Hood's home page is evidence of a community of soldiers and families that pride themselves on hard work, strict discipline, and service to our country. Yesterday, the impossible happened.

As with all things "Army," this will affect and deeply sadden those intimately connected to the military more than civilians who think of our soldiers only at Christmas when their homesick voices ring out over the airwaves. It always hits us hardest. Whatever you feel for these soldiers and their families, we feel it 100% more. Today, I am struck with equal parts grief and fear. If it can happen in Texas, it can happen in Kentucky. It can happen at Ft. Campbell or Ft. Knox. It could've been us. I am familiar with the Soldier Readiness process. While it is most common to go through the process on your way to war, you must also out-process on your way back home, as well as when your medical updates are due. I cannot imagine the grief and anger of families who must bury their soldiers, not because their vehicle hit an IED, but because another soldier was upset about being deployed. And he lived. It's tragic and unfair. But it's also indicative of the serious attention we should be paying to PTSD. It is a deep and relentless darkness for our men and women in uniform that we should not ignore or dismiss. And yet I wonder if this will be the wake-up call that the Army needs to treat these damaged soldiers with the respect they deserve. If our government is itching to send us all to war, then it must be prepared for the consequences. PTSD is understandable, a massacre of soldiers on US soil is not.

Next weekend, Neal and I will attend the Brain Injury Association of Kentucky's annual Brain Ball ( when Mom received her invitation, I gave her 7 different types of hell about the name of their annual event...until we were driving through Tennessee where we saw a billboard for the opthamologist's annual event, the Eye Ball. Yeah crazy eye win.) BIAK has invited Adjutant General Tonini and a representative from the Wounded Warrior Program to address the attendants. In light of the recent events, I can't help but wonder how he will spin it. How will he excuse the Army's contemptuous approach to soldiers experiencing PTSD? How is he going to make this OK? I'll let you know...

I ask that if you believe in a higher power, you send up a prayer for the victims and their families. If you're Catholic, light a candle. If you don't believe in anything, then just send some positive thoughts down to Texas. And if you believe in democracy, write a letter. This did not have to happen and it sure as hell should never happen again.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely praying! I used to live on Fort Lewis with my ex-husband and he was locked down in the barracks overnight and into the next day because there were weapons missing. Scariest night of my life. PTSD is extremely scary. I told my cousin the other day that the Army makes them do all of this PT to keep their bodies healthy but they do absolutely nothing about their minds. And then they wonder why they flip out. It's ridiculous. I've seen so many of my friends' relationships destroyed because of this. It's awful. Definitely praying for all of you.


That's it, let it all out....