The recent shooting rampage at Fort Hood took an exceptionally heavy toll on the post's mental health clinic. Five of the thirteen soldiers and civilians who died were mental health specialists; another 19 were wounded by the shooter, Army Major Nidal Hasan.
Making matters worse, many of the behavioral health specialists killed or wounded at Fort Hood were preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. Given their limited numbers in the Army's ranks, the casualties threatened to create havoc with deployment schedules, and the return of specialists already in theater.
But if that was Hasan's intent, he miscalculated--and badly. According to USA Today (via Army Times), several of the wounded mental health professionals will still deploy, and others are volunteering to fill slots in Afghanistan, originally earmarked for their Fort Hood colleagues.
Despite their wounds, however, eight of the specialists were still willing to deploy, said Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Lie-Ping Chang, commanding general of a medical unit that includes two combat stress control units decimated by the shooting.
The units are rebuilding quickly, Chang said. Eight of the wounded have returned to duty, and 14 other mental health reservists have volunteered to fill vacancies and go to Iraq or Afghanistan, he said.
Two reservists have volunteered to immediately deploy with the units in December, and 12 have said they will be ready by early January, Chang said.
“I think we can do it,” Chang said, referring to replenishing his ranks. “The response was so overwhelming, and the people wanted to do the right thing.”
Two vacancies remain, said Chang, who is a family physician and commands the 807th Medical Command, under which the two combat stress control units are assigned.
Hasan was one of three active duty soldiers assigned to the 467th Combat Stress Control Detachment, one of the two units slated to deploy in the coming weeks. Members of the 467th and its sister unit, the 1908th Army Reserve Combat Stress Control Detachment, were processing through the Fort Hood deployment center when Hasan went on his rampage.
Kudos to the mental health professionals, active duty and reserve, who are refusing to let a terrorist interrupt their mission. Godspeed to members of the 467th and 1908th; they will make a difference in the war zone. More importantly, their resilience and devotion to duty is a dramatic rebuke to the actions of Major Hasan. We hope he contemplates that failure at his future home on death row at Leavenworth.