Friday, November 06, 2009

Deep in the (Broken) Heart of Texas

Somehow in the busyness of the day, I missed the breaking headlines of the tragic shooting at Fort Hood, just up the road from Austin. I brought home volumes of work to get done and had no intention of turning on the television, but as I did turn on the computer to check on Facebook messages and wish a couple people 'happy birthday' I started seeing posts from several friends about the shooting.

I never expected my breaking news to come from Facebook.

Twitter yes. Facebook no.

So I immediately turned on the news and other than a trip to the grocery store, stayed transfixed to the news as more and more details broke throughout the evening. There have been the occasional stories of soldiers in combat turning the gun on fellow soldiers, but I had never heard of such a horrific among soldiers of the same force. As details of the shooter emerged, it only became worse: he was one of the trauma psychiatrists for the military.

I know several reservists well as well as a few members of the military. I even have some in my family. I suppose there is a certain acceptance of potential sacrifice when that friend or family member enlists; however, there is never the expectation that the loss will occur in the homeland at the hands of fellow soldier. The military friends I have spoken to all say the same thing, "I just can't get my head around it." All I can do is comfort and support, but really, I can't get my head around it either.

As far as I know, no one I know was killed or injured in the event; however, the fact that the shooter is a psychiatrist strikes close to home. As a trained counselor, I cannot begin to grasp how someone in such a healing profession could act out the grotesque violence he performed. It runs contrary to anything I ever learned and with his medical training, he learned it at a far deeper level than I. His actions strike home to me on the professional level and I feel drawn a personal attack that someone in a similar profession could act out so abhorrently.

While I think there are many things the armed forces need to change (Don't Ask Don't Tell, the blatant lies recruiters tell to potential members), I am completely supportive of the troops for the service they proudly give and all the armed services for the opportunities to further education and broaden the world-view they provide to young people. I dare say some on both sides will try to turn the tragedy for political benefit, but if they have any sense of true patriotism, they will leave the politics out of this and unite to give our service members all they need to do their jobs as the best trained military force in the world. Give them both the firepower to do what is asked, but also the emotional strength to use it wisely.

God bless out troops and keep them safe.
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