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Beyond Fort Hood: Mental Health and Mood Disorders Bear Constant Military ScrutinyBarry Lee Coyne Salem-News.com
We are a troubled nation. That trouble stems from a sense of helplessness. All the eloquent eulogies in the world can only soothe us but should never lull us into false complacency.
(SALEM, Ore.) - In some ways it was the modern-day series of shots heard round the world. Thirteen innocent soldiers at Fort Hood, TX, lay dead in a senseless massacre evidently perpetrated by a disgruntled army psychiatrist. That mental health screener had his own inner spirits of discontent as a would-be martyr who should have been smarter.
At this time we lack concrete information on his trigger within. At best, we can speculate from the sidelines. What we do know is that every social structure in this country and others can have its malcontents and moles. The military services are hardly immune.
Just a few years ago an assumed friendly Iraqi found his way into an army mess hall in Mosul, Iraq, and created havoc with mass murder of US troops. The headlines were ablaze with lots of questions: How could this happen to us? How do we safeguard from vulnerability within?
As a voice in the wilderness then, I penned an article for the monthly newsletter of the Oregon Chapter, National Assn. of Social Workers, urging us to become more vigilant. I also asked that we better survey the ripple effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on friends and family members who come in contact with any super-stressed member of the military.
This was a cautionary tale, a tinder box not defused but inevitably ready to recur. Once again, I appeal to every reader of this article to save a future life by writing to members of Congress and mobilizing them to take "preventive maintenance" on the threshhold of stress tolerance of any and all recruits into the armed forces.
Yes, I still vividly recall the telltale tragedy of Lee Harvey Oswald killing President Kennedy and how I then thought: Were there no early indications of a soul in turmoil, ready to explode with easy provacation? His high school guidance counselor reportedly advised counseling, only to have Oswald's mother refuse the offer. If only she had said Yes, how US history might have been altered for the better.
With all the recent cumulative findings from those gone berserk in Columbine, Virginia Tech, and a shopping mall in the Midwest, what has the psychological community learned? Which lessons could be put into motion to prevent future Fort Hood incidents?
We are a troubled nation. That trouble stems from a sense of helplessness. All the eloquent eulogies in the world can only soothe us but should never lull us into false complacency. The Declaration of Independence prudently calls for the "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". Without feeling safe, all that is a sham, Uncle Sam.
Winter is soon upon us, but this winter is hardly a time to hibernate. Wanton bloodshed is a watershed we cannot afford!
Salem-News.com Community Writer Barry Lee Coyne brings to our readers stories from his combined career of journalism and gerontology, and explains that these paths shaped his values. This writer-therapist often views the world as the masks of comedy and tragedy placed upon the scales of justice. For him, optimism inevitably wins. "Lyrical Lee" has traveled to 30 nations aboard and was once a press intern at the UN. His first published article was in The NY Daily News in '59, dealing with the need for integrity in public office.
He also launched the nation's first tele-conference on health education for shut-ins, created the Eldermentors project in VA to pair retirees with immigrant students needing role models, and was the main catalyst behind CCTV's "Public Public" panel show here in Salem. Lee received his BA in International Relations and an MSW in community organization. He currently serves as a member of Salem's Library Advisory Board. To send Lee an email, please write to this address: To send Lee an email, please write to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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