How did this happen?

I’m sure everyone has heard about the shooting at Fort Hood in Texas yesterday afternoon.  If not, here’s a brief summary: a military psychologist named Nidal Malik Hasan who had been “mortified” about being deployed, who had been taking every step to try to prevent it, and who had been trying for years to get out of his military contract because he said he was harassed for being Muslim after 9/11, took two handguns, entered the Soldier Readiness Center (where soldiers get last minute checkups before being deployed overseas), shouted “Allahu Akbar(god is great),” and killed 13 people, wounding 30 in the process.  He was shot 4 times, but is still alive.  For the moment.

What makes this even worse (and it’s hard to think of something worse than American soldiers getting gunned down in an army base on American soil by “one of their own”) is that Fort Hood not only houses 50,000 soldiers, but also 150,000 family members, children included.  Luckily no child was killed, but just thinking of how much worse this could have been makes my skin crawl.

What I really want to know is who the hell this guy thought he was.  He joined the military to get his undergrad and medical school paid for, knowing that joining up meant the possibility of deployment, yet when his time came, he took the coward’s way out.  And he took 13 people down with him.  I get that hearing the horrors of war can make you realize that it’s definitely not something you want to witness firsthand, but you signed a contract knowing the risks, so man up and deal with it.  Or go AWOL and end up in prison instead.  Don’t go on a fucking shooting spree to take down those who are braver than yourself.

My father went to Baghdad in 2007.  He served as civilian support to the military, his Navy Reserve contract having been up several years before, and when he came back early with a hurt leg, he also came back with PTSD.  I won’t go into the details, but I read the journal that his psychiatrist made him keep, and I know what happened, and I can only imagine how hard it would be to go over there knowing details like that.  But, my dad is ready to go again and would be there in a heartbeat if he could.  If he–who has a history of depression and who already lived through it once and suffered the mental consequences–can find that bravery, why couldn’t this guy?  He was a psychiatrist, for crying out loud, it’s not like he was going to be out on the front lines.  He would be sitting in a hospital doing almost the same exact work he was doing here.  The only difference is that he’d be halfway across the world.

What really ticks me off is that this might have been stopped. There were internet postings made by someone with the same name as this guy which glorified suicide bombers, comparing a Muslim who kills 100 non-Muslim enemy combatants to a soldier who throws him/herself onto a grenade to protect the people around them.  The military knew about these postings and said that the shooter was “under suspicion,” but no real moves were made.  Perhaps if they had investigated a little bit harder, or been suspicious of his frequent heated arguments with other soldiers about how he didn’t believe in the wars, and hoped President Obama would end them both before he was deployed, perhaps this wouldn’t have happened.

I’m not religious, so I can’t say that I’ll pray for those killed and their families, but my thoughts are with them, and I only hope that the gunman lives so he can receive the punishment he deserves for such a heinous, cold-blooded act.

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