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Veterans speak out on the latest tragedy at Fort Hood, Texas

Texas Governor Rick Perry & Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speak to the media during a press conference at the front gate of Fort Hood about Iraq war veteran, Ivan Lopez, and his shooting spree.
Texas Governor Rick Perry & Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speak to the media during a press conference at the front gate of Fort Hood about Iraq war veteran, Ivan Lopez, and his shooting spree.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On April 2, 2014, decorated combat veteran, SPC Ivan Antonio Lopez, went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas resulting in the death of three and wounding of 16. This was the second shooting rampage at Ft. Hood in just over the last four years. The last carnage on Ft. Hood was made by Major Nidal Hasan who killed 14 and wounded 38 soldiers and civilians on November 5, 2009. Shortly thereafter, the gun control addicts in the media (e.g., Chris Cuomo) came out in force.

Needless to say, Republican lawmakers expressed their opinion which generally opposes increased gun control laws. Reminding everyone that those who work and live on military bases are basically “soft targets”, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said, “In the state of Texas, you can get a concealed-handgun license and walk into the state Capitol. And yet on our military bases, we’re not allowing our trained combat active-duty officers to carry weapons on base. I guarantee if they had had that ability, they could have stopped this guy almost immediately.”

In an attempt to remedy any future shooting spree, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) introduced H.R. 3199, “The Safe Military Bases Act,” a bill which would repeal the existing ban on weapons allowed on military bases. This ban was implemented in 1993 by the U.S. Army with AR 190-14, which limited weapons on base to only law enforcement and security personnel. Contrary to the popular urban legend, President Clinton did not issue the Executive Order that implemented this weapons ban.

Veterans have stepped forward with their comments on the latest shooting incident at Ft. Hood which, at this base alone, now has a combined total between Lopez and Hasan of 18 deaths and 54 wounded military personnel and civilians.

Sgt. Howard Ray (U.S. Army, ret.), who was one of the wounded in the Hasan shooting at Ft. Hood in 2009, stated, “The government hasn’t learned anything in five years. They refuse to allow our soldiers to be armed, and so we are seeing this happening again. Our soldiers need to be prepared to defend themselves.’’ Ray received the Army Commendation Medal for assisting nine people out of harms way.

On the other hand, Ralph Peters (U.S. Army, ret.), a Fox News consultant, said on the April 3, 2014 edition of Bill O'Reilly's, The O'Reilly Factor, commented, “It's actually nuts” and went on to identify four main points on why allowing weapons on a military base is a bad idea. He concluded with, “You want trained responders who know what they're doing. You don't want any finance clerk at Ft. Hood firing his M-16 in any direction.”

David Hunt (U.S. Army, Col. Ret.), also a Fox News contributor, said on the same program, “It's a mental health issue, not a weapons issue. We need more mental health professionals”. Then he reminded viewers that 22 veterans and active duty military personnel are killing themselves every day.

With the mention of mental health in conjunction with veterans, there is a natural desire by people to fault all veterans being afflicted with some sort of “disorder” and perhaps considering all combat veterans to be “ticking time bombs”. Former Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Joe Campa correctly said, "We run the risk of stigmatizing them to a degree that it creates a backlash against the veteran community. We saw that before (with Vietnam veterans) and we can't let that happen again."

Mike Baker, who served as a marine in Iraq, concurred when he commented, "When you start talking about combat experience they just think you are going to bring that to the office."

Dakota Meyer a former Austin marine veteran and recipient of the Medal of Honor, returned home from Afghanistan and battled post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After the Lopez shooting, he told Fox News, “Going out and shooting your own friends, your own people, that’s not PTSD. I don’t know what the word is for it. It’s close to psychotic.”

It’s putting a label on all veterans that veterans are psychotic or mentally unstable and they're going to shoot up places. And they’re not.

He added, “PTSD does not put you in the mind set to go out and kill innocent people. The media label this shooting PTSD, but if what that man did is PTSD, then I don’t have it.”

We veterans also caution the public and especially the media about arbitrarily signifying us as “ticking time bombs”. Many of us have already dealt with PTSD and absolutely none of us have gone off the deep end and committed an atrocity similar to that done by jihadist terrorist Nidal Malik Hasan or Ivan Lopez.