4.11.2014

Tragedy at Fort Hood: Will violence increase as more war weary veterans return?

(FinalCall.com) - The mental and emotional toll of combat from America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on military service personnel is once again center stage after the latest shooting by an Army specialist on a U.S. military base. Army Specialist Ivan Lopez, 34, has been identified as the gunman in the April 2 shooting that left four dead and 16 wounded, including the shooter in Fort Hood, Texas. Investigators are blaming unstable mental health as a fundamental cause of the shooting.

But Spc. Ivan Lopez’ actions have spun America into yet another national debate on gun violence when the dialogue belongs on quality mental health treatment in the military, argue activists.
Veterans’ advocates and activists say the incessant refusal by some politicians and corporate media to acknowledge the untreated mental illness soldiers experience during and after war combat feeds the violent fall-out caused by wars undergirded by America’s foreign policy.

An Army truck driver from Puerto Rico, Spc. Lopez was undergoing treatment for depression and anxiety while being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, base officials said.

Mr. Lopez walked into a base building around 4 p.m., April 2 and began firing a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. He then got into a vehicle and continued shooting before entering another building on the Army post. He eventually was confronted by military police in a parking lot, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, senior officer at the nation’s largest Army base, said.

As he came within 20 feet of a police officer, Mr. Lopez put his hands up but then reached under his jacket and pulled out his gun. The officer drew her own weapon, and the suspect put his gun to his head and pulled the trigger a final time, Lt. Gen. Milley said.

“When it happened, I thought this was again the ghosts of the Iraq War showing themselves and I look at this in terms of the beginning of more of the problems we’ll see emerging since the Iraq War ended,” said Michael Prysner, an Iraq War veteran with the ANSWER (Act Now to End War and Racism) Coalition.  He advocates for better health treatment for veterans. [Read More]