By Debbie Gregory.
Another tragedy has befallen soldiers on the U.S. Army base Fort Hood. For the second time in five years, an armed U.S. Army member in uniform opened fire on fellow soldiers on their home base.
On August 23rd of last year, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan received the death penalty for his November 5, 2009, shooting spree, which resulted in the death of thirteen soldiers, and the wounding of 32 others. Hasan specifically targeting soldiers in uniform, passing on people in civilian attire.. A few weeks ago, building 42003, where most of the 2009 shootings occurred, was demolished.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 2, 2014, the soldiers of Fort Hood, the largest Army base in the U.S., were fired upon by one of their own. Using a .45 caliber hand gun, the shooter killed three people and wounded 16 others, before being confronted by base military police. When confronted, it is reported that the shooter branded his pistol and shot himself.
The shooter has been identified as Spc. Ivan Lopez. Lopez, 34, was originally from Puerto Rico. Lopez served nine years in the National Guard in Puerto Rico before enlisting for active duty in the Army in 2008. Lopez’s initial MOS was as an Infantryman, but he later became a truck driver. He was recently assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command stationed at Fort Hood.
Lopez was deployed twice, including a four month deployment in Iraq in 2011. Lopez reportedly served as a truck driver on his deployments. It is reported that Lopez’s service record has no history of Lopez ever engaging in combat, or receiving any wounds.
However Lopez did “self-report” receiving a traumatic brain injury while he was deployed and was reportedly being treated for several conditions, including anxiety, depression and sleep disturbances. Lopez had been prescribed drugs, including Ambien.
Spc. Lopez was fully examined last month by a psychiatrist. He was never diagnosed with PTSD, and officials say that Lopez’s doctors found no sign that he was likely to commit violence or harm to himself or others. It is also worth mentioning that Lopez had a clean military record, with no behavioral or disciplinary incidents.
Lopez’s motives and intentions remain a mystery, and the Army community at Fort Hood is once again picking up the broken pieces of another attack from within. The question remains, how do we prevent another senseless attack on our men and women in uniform at another installation? Is it a question of policy, security or mental health treatment?
Please remember that FOUR soldiers died at Fort Hood on Wednesday, not just three and a shooter. How could these deaths have been prevented? What can we do differently going forward?