Another Shooting at Fort Hood: Could Better Mental Health Care Have Prevented It?
There was another shooting at Fort Hood in Texas yesterday. Four people, including the shooter, are dead and 16 more are wounded. “Scott and White Memorial Hospital in nearby Temple, Tex., said it had received eight patients and expected one more. Three victims were in critical condition, and five others were expected to be upgraded from serious to fair condition overnight. The injuries included gunshot wounds to the abdomen, chest and neck.”
It wasn’t terrorism. According to the New York Times, the gunman, Army Specialist Ivan Lopez, “had served four months in Iraq in 2011 and was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder, but had not yet been diagnosed with the condition. There were indications that he had self-reported a traumatic brain injury when he returned from Iraq”. The military is notoriously slow about getting a diagnosis and starting treatment for these kinds of injuries.
The National Institutes for Health says traumatic brain injuries can cause behavior and/or mental health problems like “depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness.” Ivan Lopez was probably not in his right mind when this happened. What if he had gotten his diagnosis and treatment more promptly? Would four people still be alive, and 16 more be uninjured and traumatized?