Lawmakers and military officials extended condolences to those impacted by the recent shooting at Ft. Hood on Sunday and addressed factors that may have played a role in the attack.
“We have challenges that we have to address as a result of this incident,” said Adm. Michael Mullen, former chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
“I think we need to certainly take a look at securing our bases for our people. Right now, in our thirteenth year of war, it’s a time of great stress for our military… just what I’ve seen in this particular example indicates the mix of characteristics and issues that are associated with that stress—to include anxiety and depression, possible post-traumatic stress, mild [traumatic brain injury], dealing with financial and personal problems,” Mullen said on “Meet the Press.”
An official motive in the Ft. Hood shooting last Wednesday, in which 3 were killed and 16 wounded, has yet to be determined, but much of the speculation has centered on the shooter’s history of mental illness.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) pointed to perimeter security, mental health, and the “nexus” between mental health and gun laws as areas that should be evaluated in finding any “common thread” between previous shootings on military bases.
Kaine told “Fox News Sunday” he would vote to raise the Pentagon budget “depending on the line items.”
“When we’re requiring them to do across the board cuts. We do have to look at the effect of those cuts on mental health services, or the effect of those cuts on base security.”
Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Tex.) said on “Face the Nation” that the shooting highlights an issue with mental health, and the disturbing “uptick of violence at military installations” suggests that improvements need to be made in the way we deal with mental health issues amongst veterans.
“We do a good job of healing broken bodies, but not such a great job at healing broken minds with our returning veterans,” said McCaul.
Rep. John Carter (R., Tex.), who represents the district where Ft. Hood is located, said, “The issue of mental health among service members is critical. And we got two issues that come up in everything—why and what can we do. And what can we do is we have to have to provide more resources both at the DOD level and at the VA level, and that transition needs to be smooth.”
Carter was joined on “This Week” by former Army vice chief of staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who noted many soldiers do not suffer from these types of issues.
Martha Raddatz, hosting the program, asked Chiarelli if Lopez should be considered a “wounded warrior.”
“I think you have to,” Chiarelli said. “If you really want to get the stigma associated with these problems, we have got to consider these wounds of war, when in fact a large majority of those we're seeing in the service today have served and served on multiple tours.”
Some, like US Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer, a Medal of Honor recipient, have disagreed with attributing the actions of Lopez to PTSD.
“Going out and shooting your own friends, your own people, that’s not PTSD,” Meyers said in an interview with Foxnews.com. “PTSD does not put you in the mind set to go out and kill innocent people.”
Both Carter and Chiarelli agreed that treatment for PTSD has improved since the Army began taking additional steps in 2004 to identify and treat it.
McCaul noted on “Fox News Sunday” that when it comes to logistics, it is not possible to “100 percent” prevent this kind of tragedy.
“I do think it requires a review, a reanalysis of the force protection policies that we have at our military installations to see how can we better secure them. We also need to look at the possibility of whether we can hire more military police at these installations, because over the past five years we’ve seen an uptick of violence at military installations.”
McCaul advocated to allow more military members to carry weapons on bases, a stance that is not shared by the Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.
Dan Pfeiffer, White House Senior Adviser, announced on “Face the Nation” that the President and First Lady will be in Ft. Hood on Wednesday to attend the memorial service.