The Military and Mental Health

Fort Hood (military base)Nidal Malik Hasan

The tragedy at Fort Hood continues to rock the US military over its handling of mental health issues.

"We know people at Fort Hood are having a tough time," said Betsy Schwartz, President of Mental Health America of Greater Houston, which handles many cases involving local veterans. "W do know that the suicide rate … is astronomically high … In the first six months of this year, there has been 129 deaths… that's a higher rate then combat death."

The military has been under high scrutiny for failing to do more to address posttraumatic stress disorder and other psychiatric problems.

Another problem is many soldiers opt out of seeking treatment for fear it would go on their record.

"What we could do is acknowledge the trauma and build on resiliency," said Schwartz.

In addition to the stress of repeat deployment and long on-going wars, the soldiers at Fort Hood must now cope with the loss of 13 of their own and injury to dozens more at the hands of suspected shooter, Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.

While it's still unclear what the suspected shooter's motive was, mental health experts say it's crucial everyone try to heal together.

"The memorial service tomorrow is so important so victims can feel a sense of community," said Schwartz.

She added that equally important is how President Obama handles the situation.

"The president will need to use his soothing words to help people with the long healing process."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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