08 November 2009

Ft. Hood: I Just Hope We Learn The Right Lesson

It goes without saying that this is a genuine tragedy and my thoughts are with all those who are affected by the events that transpired over the past few days. As a member of a military family, and having served in a position with my husband’s previous command that gave me a first row seat to all the negative impacts the lifestyle can have on a person, their friends and their family, incidents like this leave me with a very sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. This particular violent occurrence makes me especially nervous, not only because of the slight paranoia that any one of our bases could be the next to experience such a thing, but because it would be so easy to take away the wrong lessons from this tragedy.

I worry that as soon as the suspect’s name was released, the only thing that anyone will be able to focus on is the potential connection to radical Middle-Eastern terror plots. Sure, it is worth investigating the possibility that is was all an elaborate terror plot. Every avenue needs to be fully looked at to get to the bottom of this mess. However, writing off of the whole event as the ravings of a radical Muslim allows not only the perpetuation of xenophobic political agendas, but gives the military in general a free pass to not investigate the real root causes.

The bigger issue here is there are clearly flaws in the systems by which people move through their time in military service. Even tempering everything we “know” about this man with the knowledge that it all may be exaggerated by the media, perhaps someone along the line should have ‘red flagged” this guy for reasons that have nothing to do with his race, ethnicity or religion. This incident has suddenly shined a spotlight on the unfortunate fact that often people are given a pass through various levels of training and preparation because keeping up the success percentages is more important to the military than the health and well-being of individual soldiers, sailors, pilots etc. That is where we all need to learn a lesson. The take home message here is that we (I use the royal ‘we” here to mean either the military or the nation as a whole) need to work harder to screen, monitor and support those men and women who are willing to be part of our purely volunteer national security force.

I just hope that we can look past this soldier’s name and religion so as to learn a more important lesson about treating our military personnel as individual people so as to ensure the health and safety of all. I know that certain political groups will never let the connection to the Muslim culture and religion go. After all, many people genuinely believe that President Obama is just a terrorist puppet. However, I really hope that the Army, and the Armed Services as a whole, doesn’t jump on the terrorist plot bandwagon just to have a good shot at covering the ass of an organization that often places the well-being of individuals at a low premium.

One of my usual disclaimers: I am not some kind of anti-military conspiracy theorist, just for the record. I am merely pointing out that, as with many large scale organizations, often the group looses sight of the fact that these are individual people, with unique and individual needs. Even though we have been blessed with a very positive set of experiences as a Navy family, I can promise you that we all understand that the military doesn’t care about “you” as much as they care about mission readiness. Even if that means completely overlooking the fact that healthy and happy service members and families are fundamental to the ultimate goal of mission readiness, but that is a Catch-22 for another day.