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….”
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," http://tinyurl.com/... 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.