Breaking News: Shooting At Fort Hood in Texas — 16 Wounded From Gunshots and 4 Dead Including Shooter — Shelter in Place — PTSD and Suicides of Afgan and Iraq War Veterans — The War Within — Videos

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Sources have confirmed to CBS 11 that this image is that of suspected shooter 34-year-old Ivan Lopez.


Sources have confirmed to CBS 11 that this image is that of suspected shooter 34-year-old Ivan Lopez.



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Islamic Jihad : Three Stages of Islamic Jihad 

November 5, 2009

Broken Heart: “For The Record” on the Fort Hood Shooting

Soldier Opens Fire At Fort Hood; 4 Dead, Several Injured

A soldier opened fire Wednesday on fellow service members at the Fort Hood military base, killing three people and wounding 16 before committing suicide at the same post where more than a dozen people were slain in a 2009 attack, authorities said.

The shooter, 34-year-old Ivan Lopez who served in Iraq in 2011, had been undergoing an assessment to determine whether he had post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the senior officer on the base. He was also undergoing psychiatric treatment for depression.


There was no indication the attack was related to terrorism, Milley said “although we are not ruling anything out.”

A Texas congressman said the shooting happened at a medical center. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, also identified the suspect as Ivan Lopez. But additional details about the gunman were not immediately available.

The injured were taken to Darnall Army Community Hospital at Fort Hood and other local hospitals. Dr. Glen Couchman, chief medical officer at Scott and White Hospital in Temple, said the first four people admitted there had gunshots to chest, abdomen, neck and extremities and that their conditions range from stable to “quite critical.”  At last check, nine patients had been admitted to Scott and White.

The 2009 assault on Fort Hood was the deadliest attack on a domestic military installation in U.S. history. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded.

After the shooting began, the Army’s official Twitter feed said the post had been locked down. Hours later, all-clear sirens sounded.

On Wednesday evening, a fatigue-clad soldier and a military police officer stood about a quarter-mile from the main gate waving away traffic. Other lanes were blocked by a police car and van.

Meanwhile, relatives of soldiers waited for news about their loved ones.

Tayra DeHart, 33, said she had last heard from her husband, a soldier at the post, that he was safe, but that was hours earlier.

“The last two hours have been the most nerve-racking I’ve ever felt. I know God is here protecting me and all the soldiers, but I have my phone in my hand just hoping it will ring and it will be my husband,” DeHart said.

Brooke Conover, whose husband was on base at the time of the shooting, said she found out about it while checking Facebook. She said she called her husband, Staff Sgt. Sean Conover, immediately to make sure he was OK, but he could not even tell her exactly what was going on, only that the base was locked down.

“I’m still hearing conflicting stories about what happened and where the shooting was exactly,” Conover said in a telephone interview, explaining that she still did not know how close the incident was to her husband.

“I just want him to come home,” said Conover, who moved to Fort Hood with her husband and three daughters two years ago.

President Barack Obama vowed that investigators would get to the bottom of the shooting.

In a hastily arranged statement in Chicago, Obama said he was following the situation closely. He said the shooting brought back painful memories of the 2009 attack.

Obama reflected on the sacrifices that troops stationed at Fort Hood have made – including enduring multiple tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“They serve with valor. They serve with distinction, and when they’re at their home base, they need to feel safe,” Obama said. “We don’t yet know what happened tonight, but obviously that sense of safety has been broken once again.”

The president spoke without notes or prepared remarks in the same room of a steakhouse where he had just met with about 25 donors at a previously scheduled fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. White House officials quickly pushed tables to the side of the room to make room for Obama to speak to the nation.

The November 2009 attack happened inside a crowded building where soldiers were waiting to get vaccines and routine paperwork after recently returning from deployments or preparing to go to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan was convicted and sentenced to death last year in that mass shooting. He said he acted to protect Islamic insurgents abroad from American aggression.

According to testimony during Hasan’s trial last August, Hasan walked inside carrying two weapons and several loaded magazines, shouted “Allahu Akbar!” – Arabic for “God is great!” – and opened fire with a handgun.

Witnesses said he targeted soldiers as he walked through the building, leaving pools of blood, spent casings and dying soldiers on the floor. Photos of the scene were shown to the 13 officers on the military jury.

The rampage ended when Hasan was shot in the back by Fort Hood police officers outside the building. He was paralyzed from the waist down and is now on death row at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

After that shooting, the military tightened security at bases nationwide. Those measures included issuing security personnel long-barreled weapons, adding an insider-attack scenario to their training and strengthening ties to local law enforcement, according to Peter Daly, a vice admiral who retired from the Navy in 2011. The military also joined an FBI intelligence-sharing program aimed at identifying terror threats.

3 Victims, Gunman Dead After Second Fort Hood Mass Shooting

Deceased are all military personnel, Fort Hood official says

By Frank Heinz

Four people are dead, including the gunman, and another 16 are injured in a mass shooting at the Fort Hood Army post Wednesday. One of the survivors is in grave condition, NBC News reports.

More than four hours after the shooting, all-clear sirens sounded as the lockdown at the post was lifted. Hundreds of cars began streaming from the giant complex, many including children who had been kept locked-down in schools since gunshots were first reported at about 4:30 p.m.

A military official told NBC News that the deceased shooter, identified as 34-year-old enlisted Army soldier Ivan Lopez, took his own life and appeared to be the only shooter, despite an earlier report of two possible gunmen.

Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the commanding general at Fort Hood, refused to identify the gunman during a news conference Wednesday night pending notification of family members.

Milley said the sequence of events are not 100 percent clear but that investigators believe the shooting began when a soldier assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) fired shots at individuals in the 1st Medical Brigade. Milley said the shooter then left that building, got into a vehicle and continued firing. He then went to another building at the post, went inside and opened fire.  The gunman, when confronted by a military police officer, put his gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

The gunman was armed with a single weapon, a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun he had recently purchased, Milley said.

The gunman had served four months in Iraq in 2011 and was currently under diagnosis for post traumatic stress disorder, but had not been officially diagnosed with PTSD, Milley said. He added the shooter was undergoing behavioral health care for depression and anxiety, had a self-reported traumatic brain injury and was not physically injured in combat.

NBC News learned that Lopez served with the Puerto Rican Army National Guard and was an E4 in the U.S. Army.  NBC News reported that the shooter was in uniform and that the shooting rampage may have resulted from an argument with other soldiers in the motor pool and was not related to terrorism.

The names of the victims have not yet been released, though Milley did confirm that all of the victims are military personnel.  Officials at Fort Hood said the names of the victims will be released 24 hours after all family have been notified.

Temple Hospital Taking Fort Hood Patients

Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Temple confirms they have a command center in place and have received nine patients from the post.

All patients are in the intensive care unit; three are critical and five are serious.  The ninth patient is en route, as of 10:20 p.m. Wednesday night.

In an update early Wednesday night, Glen Couchman, chief medical officer for Baylor Scott & White Memorial Hospital, said patients are receiving treatment for wounds to their chest, abdomen, neck and extremities and range from “stable to quite critical.”

“This is another sad day for Central Texas,” Couchman said. He said the hospital planned to offer another update on the conditions of the victims later in the evening.

Officials at Baylor Scott & White said the blood center closed at 8 p.m., but will be open for donations from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday.

Investigation Continues

Officials at Fort Hood said Wednesday that there is no indication the mass shooting is related to terrorism.

The investigation by law enforcement is ongoing and post officials were reluctant to reveal any further information about what may have led to the rampage.

Milley said the investigation into the shooting continues and that nothing is being ruled out as a cause at this point. The investigation is being conducted with the support of The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Texas Rangers, The Texas Department of Public Safety, military police, Army CID, the Killeen Police Department and the Harker Heights Police Department.

During the lockdown of the base, officials with the Bell County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Department of Public Safety were called in to help to secure the perimeter of the largest active duty armored post in the U.S. Armed Services.

Obama, Gov. Perry Respond

President Barack Obama addressed the shooting in brief remarks in Chicago, where he was attending a fundraiser Wednesday night.

“We’re following it closely. The situation is fluid right now … I want to just assure all of us we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” he said. “We’re heartbroken something like this might have happened again.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement Wednesday as well. “Today, Fort Hood was once again stricken by tragedy,” he said. “Fort Hood has proven its resilience before, and will again.”

Perry was one of several politicians who tweeted messages following the news of the shooting, many of whom called for prayers for the post and Central Texas.

Mom Stuck at Fort Hood With 4-Year-Old During Shooting

Charlotte Spencer was picking up her 4-year-old son from soccer practice on the Fort Hood post when Wednesday’s shooting occurred.

Spencer said her son had just climbed in the car when a woman came over a loudspeaker telling everyone to shelter in place immediately.

“The siren came over and she was like, ‘This is an emergency. Get in your homes, lock your doors, lock your windows, turn off your AC units and turn off your heaters if you have them running. Just stay in place. This is an active emergency,’” Spencer described.

Spencer said she tried to delicately explain the all too familiar situation to her young son.

“It Sounded Powerful”

Antonio Ortiz, 30, who lives a quarter of a mile from the east gate of Fort Hood, told NBC News he heard a commotion and went outside to hear alarms going off and announcements for people to stay inside. He went back in and turned on the TV news, then soon after heard a barrage of gunshots.

“It sounded powerful,” Ortiz said, adding that while it seemed to be coming from the base, he couldn’t rule out the possibility someone in the civilian neighborhood was shooting.

“I’m scared for my son. He’s 7,” Ortiz said. “But I do have a 12-gauge pump shotgun.”

Tayra DeHart, 33, said she had last heard from her husband, a soldier at the post, that he was safe, but that was hours earlier.

“The last two hours have been the most nerve-wracking I’ve ever felt. I know God is here protecting me and all the soldiers, but I have my phone in my hand just hoping it will ring and it will be my husband,” DeHart said.

Brooke Conover, whose husband was on base at the time of the shooting, said she found out about it while checking Facebook. She said she called her husband, Staff Sgt. Sean Conover, immediately to make sure he was OK, but he couldn’t even tell her exactly what was going on, only that the base was locked down.

“I’m still hearing conflicting stories about what happened and where the shooting was exactly,” Conover said in a telephone interview, explaining that she still doesn’t know how close the incident was to her husband.

“I just want him to come home,” said Conover, who moved to Fort Hood with her husband and three daughters two years ago.

Tragic History at Fort Hood

In November 2009, 13 people were killed and more than 30 others injured when Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, opened fire on dozens of people at the post. Hasan was paralyzed during an exchange of gunfire and, in late 2013, was sentenced to death.  He is currently awaiting execution.

In February, officials at the Central Texas Army post said the site of the 2009 massacre, a processing center also known as Building 42003, had been razed.

Hasan’s rampage isn’t the most recent mass shooting at a U.S. military installation.  Last September, a lone gunman with ties to North Texas, Aaron Alexis, killed 12 when he opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard.

Largest Active-Duty Military Base

Fort Hood covers a total of 340 square miles and supports multiple units, a corps headquarters and a robust mobilization mission. It is home to two full divisions, the 1st Cavalry Division and 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) and 12 additional units.

Around 50,000 soldiers work at Fort Hood, and there are an additional 150,000 civilians who support the base.

The post is about 60 miles north of the capital city of Austin, 50 miles south of Waco, 160 miles south of Dallas and 150 miles north of San Antonio

FBI, military hunt ex-Army recruit suspected of plotting ‘Ft. Hood-inspired jihad’

EXCLUSIVE: The FBI is searching for a recent Army recruit believed to be planning a “Fort Hood-inspired jihad against U.S. soldiers,” has learned.

The alert, whose legitimacy was confirmed by military and law enforcement officials, stated that a man identified as Booker had told friends of his “intention to commit jihad.” Booker, who is also known as Muhammad Abdullah Hassan, was recruited by the U.S. Army in Kansas City, Mo., in February 2014 and was scheduled to report for basic training on April 7. But he was discharged last week, apparently after law enforcement authorities learned of his alleged plan.

Both the FBI and the 902d Military Intelligence Group at Fort Leavenworth are involved in the hunt.

The alert, a copy of which was obtained by, was sent out by the FBI’s Kansas City Division on Friday and distributed through the U.S. Marine Corps. The portion obtained by did not include Hassan’s photo or age. It was also sent to the Kansas City Police Department, which could indicate authorities believe he may have remained in the area where he was recruited.

The alert is titled, “Planned Fort Hood-inspired Jihad against US Soldiers by Army Recruit” and was issued “to inform and protect officers who may encounter this individual or others exhibiting the same aspirations.” The source of the information contained in the alert was listed as “An FBI agent.”

According to the alert:

“On 20 March 2014, the Kansas City Division FBI became aware of an individual named BOOKER aka Muhammad Abdullah Hassan who had publicly stated his intention to commit jihad, bidding farewell to his friends and making comments indicating his jihad was imminent. BOOKER had been recruited by the US Army in Kansas City, Mo., in February 2014 and was scheduled to report for Basic Training on 7 April 2014. Kansas City Division Agents interviewed BOOKER on 20 March 2014.”

Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Ty Balzer confirmed the alert’s legitimacy, but referred questions to the FBI. A spokeswoman with the Kansas City Division of the FBI — the same division responsible for sending out the alert and who, according to the alert, spoke with Booker on March 20 — said she did “not have any information to provide in regards to your inquiry.”

Law enforcement sources familiar with the alert said it appeared to suggest that there may be others in addition to Booker who also might have expressed similar intentions to commit jihad against U.S. military installations.

A military source said it appeared the bulletin was provided by the FBI, then distributed by the Marine Corps under the normal protocol of sharing any information relating to a potential threat to U.S. military installations or personnel.

A spokesman for the Kansas City recruiting station where Booker enlisted referred’s questions to 902d Military Intelligence Group, which did not immediately return requests for comment.

The Fort Hood shooting, referenced in the alert, took place on Nov. 5, 2009. U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, a psychiatrist who had become a radical Muslim while serving in the military, killed 13 people and injured dozens more inside the Texas Army base. Hasan, who represented himself at a military trial after clashing with his appointed attorneys, was sentenced to death in August.


Shooting Confirmed at Fort Hood Army Base

NBC News reports there may be two shooters, one down, one at-large


Multiple people have been injured and the search for the gunman is underway after a shooting at the Fort Hood Army post Wednesday afternoon.

Reports of an active shooter triggered a lockdown at Fort Hood, with local sheriff’s deputies and the FBI immediately responding.
As many as eight people may be injured, and there may have been two shooters, NBC News reported. One of those was believed to be “down,” while the second was believed to be at-large, according to NBC News.

Fort Hood confirmed that a shooting occurred at the base, though the number of people injured and the severity of their injuries has not been confirmed.

Just after 5 p.m. local time, the base tweeted that all personnel were being asked to shelter in place, close doors and stay away from windows.

The shooting is believed to have taken place at the Medical Brigade Building. Local NBC affiliate KCEN-TV reported there were also reports of victims at the Battle Simulation Center.

Central Texas College’ campus was evacuated due to the shooting, with all personnel and students asked to leave and all classes canceled.

Officials with the Bell County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Department of Public Safety are helping to secure the perimiter of the base.

In November 2009, 13 people were killed and more than 30 others injured when Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire on dozens of people at the base. Hasan was paralyzed during an exchange of gunfire and, in late 2013, was sentenced to death. He is currently awaiting execution.



Background Articles and Videos

US Soldier Suicides: Congress to increase efforts to curb high rate of military suicides


Vets Rally to Curb Military Suicides

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans express pain and pride of war

According to a new survey, 89 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans say they would join the military again, while also reporting a spike in suicide, reduced physical wellness and feelings of disconnection. Gwen Ifill talks to two veterans, Tom Tarantino of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Nathan Smith of Hire Heroes USA, as well as Rajiv Chandrasekaran of The Washington Post.

Tens of thousands of Afghan, Iraq war veterans homeless in 2013

Quick Facts: Plight of US veterans

On Afghan War 11th Anniversary, Vets Confront Mental Health Crisis, Suicide, Violence 1 of 3

On the 11th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, we take a look at the invisible wounds of war here at home. Since the war began on Oct. 7, 2001, less than a month after the Sept. 11th attacks, at least 2,000 U.S. soldiers have died. Some 2.4 million U.S. soldiers have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the psychological toll of the wars is mounting. Last year, the Veterans Administration treated almost 100,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and soldier suicides reached an all-time high this year.

On Afghan War 11th Anniversary, Vets Confront Mental Health Crisis, Suicide, Violence 2 of 3

On Afghan War 11th Anniversary, Vets Confront Mental Health Crisis, Suicide, Violence 3 of 3


Between Iraq and a Hard Place – PTSD and Suicides in Iraq

Veterans of PTSD PBS NOW

The War Within 1 of 4

The War Within 2 of 4

The War Within 3 of 4

The War Within 4 of 4

Marines PTSD Suicide CPL Anthony Clay Ward, USMC, FOX 2/11 Iraq War










Veterans statistics: PTSD, Depression, TBI, Suicide.

The following veterans statistics are from a major study done by the RAND Corporation (full pdf of study), a study by the Congressional Research Service, the Veterans Administration, and the US Surgeon General.

PTSD statistics are a moving target that is fuzzy: do you look only at PTSD diagnosed within one year of return from battle? Do you only count PTSD that limits a soldier’s ability to go back into battle or remain employed, but that may have destroyed a marriage or wrecked a family? Do you look at the PTSD statistics for PTSD that comes up at any time in a person’s life: it is possible to have undiagnosed PTSD for 30 years and not realize it–possibly never or until you find a way to get better and then you realize there is another way to live. When you count the PTSD statistic of “what percentage of a population gets PTSD,” is your overall starting group combat veterans, veterans who served in the target country, or all military personnel for the duration of a war?

And veterans PTSD statistics get revised over time. The findings from the NVVR Study (National Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Study) commissioned by the government in the 1980s initially found that for “Vietnam theater veterans” 15% of men had PTSD at the time of the study and 30% of men had PTSD at some point in their life. But a 2003 re-analysis found that “contrary to the initial analysis of the NVVRS data, a large majority of Vietnam Veterans struggled with chronic PTSD symptoms, with four out of five reporting recent symptoms when interviewed 20-25 years after Vietnam.” (see also NVVR review)

There is a similar problem with suicide statistics. The DoD and their researchers tend to lose track of military personnel once they retire, and not all suicides will be counted as a military suicide (plus, is a person who drinks themselves to death committing suicide?). A recent study found U.S. veteran suicide rates to be be as high as 5,000 a year. See suicide statistics (bottom of page).

Summary of Veterans Statistics for PTSD, TBI, Depression and Suicide.

    • there are over 2.3 million American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (compared to 2.6 million Vietnam veterans who fought in Vietnam; there are 8.2 million “Vietnam Era Veterans” (personnel who served anywhere during any time of the Vietnam War)
    • at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and/or Depression. (Military counselors I have interviewed state that, in their opinion, the percentage of veterans with PTSD is much higher; the number climbs higher when combined with TBI.) Other accepted studies have found a PTSD prevalence of 14%; see a complete review of PTSD prevalence studies, which quotes studies with findings ranging from 4 -17% of Iraq War veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder)
    • 50% of those with PTSD do not seek treatment
    • out of the half that seek treatment, only half of them get “minimally adequate” treatment (RAND study)
    • 19% of veterans may have traumatic brain injury (TBI)
    • Over 260,000 veterans from OIF and OEF so far have been diagnosed with TBI. Traumatic brain injury is much more common in the general population than  previously thought: according to the CDC, over 1,700,000 Americans have a traumatic brain injury each year; in Canada 20% of teens had TBI resulting in hospital admission or that involved over 5 minutes of unconsciousness (VA surgeon reporting in BBC News)
    • 7% of veterans have both post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury
    • rates of post-traumatic stress are greater for these wars than prior conflicts
    • in times of peace, in any given year, about 4% (actually 3.6%) of the general population have PTSD (caused by natural disasters, car accidents, abuse, etc.)
    • recent statistical studies show that rates of veteran suicide are much higher than previously thought (see suicide prevention page).
    • PTSD distribution between services for OND, OIF, and OEF: Army 67% of cases, Air Force 9%, Navy 11%, and Marines 13%. (Congressional Research Service, Sept. 2010)
    • recent sample of 600 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan found: 14% post-traumatic stress disorder; 39% alcohol abuse; 3% drug abuse. Major depression also a problem. “Mental and Physical Health Status and Alcohol and Drug Use Following Return From Deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.” Susan V. Eisen, PhD
    • Oddly, statistics for veteran tobacco use are never reported alongside PTSD statistics, even though increases in rates of smoking are strongly correlated with the stress of deployment and combat, and smoking statistics show that tobacco use is tremendously damaging and costly for soldiers.
    • More active duty personnel die by own hand than combat in 2012 (New York Times)

Other veterans PTSD statistics references and sources:


U.S. Suicide Rate Surged Among Veterans
Eli Clifton

Suicides among United States military veterans ballooned by 26 percent from 2005 to 2007, according to new statistics released by the Veterans Affairs (VA) department. 

“Of the more than 30,000 suicides in this country each year, fully 20 percent of them are acts by veterans,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki at a VA-sponsored suicide prevention conference on Monday. “That means on average 18 veterans commit suicide each day. Five of those veterans are under our care at VA.”

The spike in the suicide rate can most clearly be attributed to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the high number of veterans returning to the U.S. with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

”We have now nearly two million vets of Iraq and Afghanistan and we still haven’t seen the type of mobilisation of resources necessary to handle an epidemic of veteran suicides,” Aaron Glantz, an editor at New America Media editor and author of “The War Comes Home”, told IPS.

”With [President Barack] Obama surging in Afghanistan coupled with his unwillingness to withdraw speedily from Iraq, it means we have more veterans who have served more and more tours and as a result we have an escalating number of people coming home with PTSD, depression and other mental health issues,” Glantz continued.

Health officials have pointed to the multiple tours of duty served by many U.S. soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq as one of the stresses placed on military personnel that differs from previous wars fought by the U.S.

“The unfortunate truth is that the real challenge begins when these service men and women return home and readjust to day-to-day life,” said Rep. Michael McMahon, co-founder of the Congressional Invisible Wounds Caucus.

“The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs must be prepared with the appropriate staff and funding to conduct post-deployment psychological screenings with a mental health professional for all service men and women,” he said. “Evidently, the paper questionnaires currently in use simply do not suffice. How many more young men and women must die before we provide the necessary mental health care?”

The VA estimated that in 2005, the suicide rate per 100,000 veterans among men ages 18-29 was 44.99, but jumped to 56.77 in 2007.

A Rand Corporation report last year found that as many as 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans exhibited symptoms of PTSD or depression.

”As I’ve often asked, mostly of myself, but also of others from time to time, why do we know so much about suicides but so little about how to prevent them?” said Shinseki.

The VA came under attack by veterans’ groups in April 2008, when internal emails sent by the VA’s head of mental health, Dr. Ira Katz, showed that the VA was attempting to conceal the number of suicides committed by veterans.

Under the Obama administration, the approach to handling the increasing number of suicides appears to have shifted, with a greater focus on transparency – the VA is holding a three-day conference on suicide this week. Last year, Obama announced a 25-billion-dollar increase in the VA’s budget over the next five years.

While the emphasis on greater transparency, particularly with regards to PTSD and mental health issues, and increased funding for the VA has been welcomed, many are still concerned that the troop surge in Afghanistan and the ongoing U.S. role in Iraq will put ever greater strains on the VA and its ability to deal with soldiers returning from multiple tours of duty.

”The first Gulf War was over in a matter of months. This war has gone on for nine years in Afghanistan and seven years in Iraq. There are two million vets, most of whom have served multiple tours,” said Glantz.

”What this means is that the military has never faced the stress it faces now. Not even in Vietnam where we had a draft and most soldiers only served one tour. In Iraq and Afghanistan everyone’s on the frontlines all the time. Even being in a vehicle going from one military base to another is extremely dangerous,” he said.

Shinseki cited the fact that of the 18 veterans who commit suicide each day, five are under the care of the VA, as evidence that both the VA’s efforts to prevent suicides are falling short and that the VA is failing to bring enough veterans under its care.

Suicides among active duty personnel have also risen, with 147 reported suicides in the Army from January through November 2009 – an increase from 127 in the same period of 2008.

Among non-active duty reserve soldiers, 50 suicides were reported in 2008 but the number had risen to 71 during the first 11 months of 2009.

Suicide rates in all four services of the military are significantly higher than in the general population, with 52 Marines, 48 sailors, and 41 members of the Air force committing suicide in 2009.

The final figures for suicides in the Army during 2009 will be released Thursday.


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