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A Press Release by Military Families Speak Out

The Fort Hood Killings: Military Families Speak Out Offers Condolences
The Bombs of War Also Explode at Home

As the nation was stunned by the horrific tragedies that left 13 dead and 30 wounded on Ft. Hood yesterday, Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) and Gold Star Families Speak Out (GSFSO) would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to our fellow Military Families and those who love them. Upon first hearing about such attacks, our stress as military families intensifies, and we experience a range of emotions: the panic that it is our loved one who has been attacked, the guilty relief if our loved one escaped the bullet this time, the sorrow for those of us who suffer and face the incalculable loss of losing forever those we nurture and love.

As the facts unfold, military families on Ft. Hood and across the nation are experiencing the fear, pain, and loss that many of us thought were only associated with the battlefield, not time at home. One month before Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, he said, “The bombs in Vietnam explode at home….”

(more below)

While it is too soon to jump to conclusions about what happened at Ft. Hood, there are things that we as military families do know. One is that while we are being crushed under the weight of two seemingly endless wars, we have the additional burden of fear at home.

Keri Wheelwright, the wife of an active duty Army Officer stationed at Ft. Jackson and a member of the Board of Directors for MFSO, explains:
“Waking this morning and having to send my husband off to work filled me with overwhelming anxiety and a new fear for his safety that I thought would go away upon his return from Iraq. I can only imagine the pain that those on Ft. Hood are experiencing. My hope is that this horrific event serves to remind our nation and our government that as a result of failed intelligence and policy, these wars have pushed our soldiers too far. The best way to prevent this from happening on bases and in homes around our country is to end both wars now and put our resources toward healing our soldiers when they get home.”

While there are many questions to ask in the coming days, there are a few things we do know about, particularly in relation to PTSD. We know there are an estimated half a million U.S. veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and/or traumatic brain injuries from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (see the National Council on Disability report "Invisible Wounds: Serving Service Members and Veterans with PTSD and TBI," Many of these military members are not receiving the care they deserve. PTSD has long term consequences, which can include, for some, homelessness, economic deprivation, substance abuse, and perpetrating domestic abuse.

As military families, we know that the horrors of war cause families to experience secondary PTSD, as we face numerous post deployment issues. We know all too well the stress and trauma that result from caring for loved ones who carry the hell of war inside. The children of our service members will continue to suffer from the burden of separation and multiple deployments. The fear of losing a parent overseas is more than any child should have to bear but the thought of not being safe at home is unimaginable. Our hearts go out to the children on Ft. Hood.

But we also know something else. The trauma being faced by the family members on Fort Hood is mirrored by the trauma being faced by families in Iraq and Afghanistan enduring these wars, and by the thousands of US soldiers already killed and wounded both physically and mentally as a result of these wars, and by all those who love them. Military family members know all too well, for long after the US pulls its troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, we will continue to carry the burdens and to sacrifice in a way that very few people in our country will ever experience. We know that in order to end the cycle of violence, the US must pull its troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan now.

MFSO is a national organization of thousands of military families working to bring all U.S. troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan; secure the care that our troops, veterans, and military families need; and support a foreign policy that will not lead us into such wars again.

Military families are available to share a perspective invaluable to the public debate and too seldom heard amid official pronouncements and geo-strategic analyses: the experiences of those who are among the most damaged by these wars. MFSO members speak out to help save the lives of our loved ones, other military personnel, and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

As military family members, we have compelling stories to tell. We are well positioned to comment on breaking news and to participate in talk shows.

Originally posted to samdiener on Sat Nov 07, 2009 at 03:03 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm surprised they left out suicide (6+ / 0-)

    in this list

    PTSD has long term consequences, which can include, for some, homelessness, economic deprivation, substance abuse, and perpetrating domestic abuse.

    And even homicide.

    It may be an unwillingness to link acts of violence to PTSD, but PTSD runs the entire range from increased anxiety to complete mental break downs.

    Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

    by Fabian on Sat Nov 07, 2009 at 03:46:55 AM PST

    •  Many PTSD Consequences (0+ / 0-)

      Yes, there are of course many more consequences.
      See, for example, this review by the National Council on Disability, titled, Invisible Wounds: Serving Service Members and Veterans with PTSD and TBI which argued early this year that:

      "PTSD and TBI can be quite debilitating, but the effects can be mitigated by early intervention and prompt effective treatment. Although medical and scientific research on how to prevent, screen for, and treat these injuries is incomplete, evidence-based practices have been identified. A number of panels and commissions have identified gaps between evidence-based practices and the current care provided by DoD and VA and have recommended strategies to address these gaps. The window of opportunity to assist the service members and veterans who have sacrificed for the country is quickly closing. It is incumbent upon the country to promptly implement the recommendations of previous panels and commissions and fill the remaining gaps in the mental health service systems."

  •  Is this diary arguing that as a nation we should (0+ / 0-)

    base our decisions on whether or not to be at war based on what some lunatic may do?

    The best way to prevent this from happening on bases and in homes around our country is to end both wars now

    There are lessons to be learned here. But ending a war just to prevent a murderer from carrying out his deeds is not sound decision making. There are reasons to end this war (which is why Obama is making a slow and thoughtful decision), but this isn't one of them.

    I'm in the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

    by doc2 on Sat Nov 07, 2009 at 04:27:19 AM PST

    •  I don't think that is what this diary is saying. (7+ / 0-)

      The diarist is pointing out that not all of the damage is done on the battlefield and we should consider this as part of the cost of waging war.

      I was a military wife married to a career man who served two tours in VietNam. The family suffers, the community suffers and the future suffers when warriors go off to the fight, while they are gone, and doesn't necessarily end when they come back.

      I watched many marriages crushed under the unspoken pain and stress. I saw dependent children attempt to deal with the knowledge of the danger to their absent parents and the exquisite pain suffered by those whose lost theirs. This was not lost on the other children.

      I watched my marriage fall apart as I tried to deal with this completely strange and silent man who came back from war behind my husband's face.

      The scope of war is wider and deeper than the military is willing to admit and the damage done to the society that wages it is almost impossible to gauge.

      Do what you can with what you have where you are - Guild of Maintainers

      by bablhous on Sat Nov 07, 2009 at 04:41:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  How does this differ from ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pete Rock

      going to "war" - invading and occupying foreign lands - because of what some other lunatics have done?  Namely, the suicide kamikaze teams of Saudis that flew into the WTC?  

      If it is a poor argument to leave a failed occupation because of the actions of a single madman at Ft. Hood, why is it OK to mobilize two trillion dollar invasions because of the actions of a handful of madmen on 9/11?

      I'm not sure I understand your point.

      I suspect that the diarist, samdiener, was alluding to is the greater tragedy of the impact at home.  Not merely this weeks tragedy at Ft. Hood, but the entire impact on our military families, our populace, the burden on our taxpayers and the diminished readiness of our fighting forces to respond to emerging global threats while we're bogged down in two now-indefensible occupations.

      As you say, there are reasons to end this war - and facing these types of events at Ft. Hood, to say nothing of the greater victimization of our citizens for decades to come, is very much at the forefront of those reasons.

      If protecting American lives was not motive enough, then why did we "go to war" to begin with?

      •  Who are you arguing with? I didn't (0+ / 0-)

        say anything about justifying these wars based on 911. I'm talking about all wars. All war decisions should take into account the stress on the troops and their families, and I know that Obama is doing this. What I said in my comment is that the possible actions of a lunatic should not be a factor in the decision.

        I'm in the pro-Obama wing of the Democratic Party.

        by doc2 on Sat Nov 07, 2009 at 05:50:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It should rivet our attention (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          samdiener, Neon Mama, miss SPED

          on the collateral damage of a war.  Just because we fight Over There doesn't mean that people At Home don't get hurt as well.

          Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

          by Fabian on Sat Nov 07, 2009 at 05:57:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Cultivating lunatics is a damn good reason. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          samdiener, Pete Rock, Neon Mama

          What I said in my comment is that the possible actions of a lunatic should not be a factor in the decision.

          Yes ... I got that.  And what I'm saying is that the actions of lunatics are inseparable from being factors in our decisions - because our decisions have the result of spawning the lunatic.  And what the data shows is that just as we cultivated a McVeigh in the first gulf war, we may have cultivated a thousand McVeighs subsequently in the the last 8 years of ill-advised occupations - both Iraq and Afghanistan.

          The ongoing stresses on our military - and the ramifications of their return home - should absolutely be factors in those decisions.
          Since the neo-conned nation-building ideologies have dominated our foreign policy, this is what we've done to disproportionately and unduly elevate stresses to our military:

          Stop-loss programs
          Multiple tours of duty
          Lengthened tours of duty
          Lowering admission standards three times
          Raising the age limit twice
          Fostering torture
          Failing to prevent rape within the military ranks
          Reversing policies against admitting skin-heads, racists and white supremacists.
          Enlisting men with felony convictions.
          Subjecting our troops to unsupervised psycho-pharmacology to keep them in the field.

          All of these factors and more serve to cultivate madmen - and all of these factors are effectively reversed by withdrawing our forces from occupation and divesting the military of its most troubled and suspect members.

          If these aren't damn good reasons to factor into policy decisions, then I don't know what would be.  Because collectively, all of them spell Ft. Hood disasters-in-waiting on an order of magnitude

  •  Agreed (6+ / 0-)

    I have been writing on this extensively, it's good to see others are too. Just yesterday there was another Army spouse murder/suicide here at Fort Campbell, the latest of many. Not only do we need to deal with the stresses of deployment and garrison life we are under attack at home as well. Untreated mental and physical problems like TBI are doing more than just lessening soldiers performance in action, they are killing soldiers and their families and sometimes even civilians here at home.

  •  There aren't any simple answers, otherwise (0+ / 0-)

    we could all just sit back and turn the television on.

    Fort Hood hosted a tragedy not unlike a terrorist attack.  The reactions to that tragedy are not unlike what they would be if it were a terrorist attack.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Sat Nov 07, 2009 at 05:14:32 AM PST

    •  If it was a terrorist attack (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      then why is no one jumping up to claim credit?

      Certainly al Quaeda would love to claim credit.

      The only thing notable about this shooting as opposed to every other shooting is that it happened on a military base.  Otherwise it looks any other act of workplace violence - see the incident in Orlando for comparison.

      Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

      by Fabian on Sat Nov 07, 2009 at 05:54:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It looks like any other act of (0+ / 0-)

        workplace violence because that's what it was only he wanted out and they wouldn't let him.

        The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

        by nupstateny on Sat Nov 07, 2009 at 06:23:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I apologize if I missed it (0+ / 0-)

    but I have been watching for a mega -IGTNT diary on the dead and injured from Ft. Hood. Not all the names of the dead have been released, but some have.

    Our local news has interviewed families who describe the agony of the chaplain's visit to the front door. IGTNT isn't just Over There - it's right down the highway.
    It's heartbreaking, I am so very sorry.

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