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10 Suicides This Year at Ft. Hood -- War Stress Is Taking Soldiers to the Brink

The shooting tragedy at Fort Hood on Friday points to a much larger problem of combat stress and overdeployment in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Editor's Note: This Tuesday, President Obama attended a memorial service for the shootings at Ft. Hood last Friday. He called the attack " incomprehensible," when in fact it's quite easy to comprehend. Obama would do well to consider that the war policies he's continuing, extending the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, are the underlying cause of acts of madness and desperation by soldiers at Ft. Hood. As Dahr Jamail illustrates in the article below, this one military post has had 10 suicides so far this year.

PHOENIX, Arizona - While investigators probe for a motive behind the mass shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas last Thursday, in which an army psychiatrist killed 13 people, military personnel at the base are in shock as the incident "brings the war home".

"We're all in shock," said Specialist Michael Kern, an active-duty veteran of the Iraq war, told Inter Press Service (IPS) by telephone. Kern, who is based at Fort Hood, served in Iraq from March 2007 to March 2008. "Every single person that I've talked to is in shock," Kern added.

"I'm surprised this hits so close to home, but at the same time, I knew something like this was going to happen given what else is happening - the war is coming home, and something needs to be done. Innocent civilians are being wounded and killed here at home by soldiers, and this is completely unacceptable," he said.

The gunman, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, entered a Soldier Readiness Center (SRC), where troops get medical evaluations and complete paperwork just prior to being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, and opened fire with two non-military issued handguns.

Hasan killed 13 people, 12 of them soldiers, and wounded over 30 others, before being shot four times by a civilian police officer. Hasan is now in stable condition in a local hospital, where he is in the custody of military authorities.

Colonel John Rossi, a spokesman at Fort Hood, told reporters that Hasan was "stable and in one of our civilian hospitals". Rossi added, "He's on a ventilator."

Hasan, 39, joined the army just out of high school. He had counseled wounded war veterans at Walter Reed Hospital, and was transferred to Fort Hood in April. He had recently received orders to deploy to Afghanistan.

His cousin, Nader Hasan, has said in media interviews that Hasan was very reluctant to be deployed overseas and had agitated not to be sent. "We've known over the last five years that was probably his worst nightmare," he said.

Responding to the allegations in the media that the attack was based on his Muslim faith, Kern told IPS that he did not know of anyone on the base who felt this was the case.

"We all wear the same uniform here, it's all green. I've seen the news, but most folks here assume it's just a soldier that snapped," Kern explained. "I have not talked to anyone who thinks what he did has anything to do with him being a Muslim. There are thousands of Muslims serving with dignity in the US military, in all four branches."

Fort Hood, located in central Texas, is one of the largest US military bases in the world. It contains up to 50,000 soldiers, and is one of the most heavily deployed to both occupations.

Tragically, Fort Hood has also born much of the brunt from its heavy involvement in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Fort Hood soldiers have accounted for more suicides than any other army post since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, [ where at least 76 have been recorded, including 10 this year].*

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