By Mike Peters (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-07 14:57
"Nov 11 is Veterans Day in the US. The 535 members of Congress will be on holiday, but when they return, perhaps they will be inspired to fund mental health care for the military at an appropriate level. Enlisted men and women being exposed to the trauma of war deserve no less."
It sounds like the punch line of a joke: The person who went crazy was the psychiatrist.
But nobody was laughing on Friday as the US military struggled to cope with the worst mass shooting in its history.
We may never know why Nidal Malik Hasan took aim and fired at his fellow soldiers in Texas on Thursday. But the tragedy points a bright light at a problem that's been obvious for a long time: The US makes an insuffficient investment in the mental health of its soldiers.
I don't say that to make excuses for Hasan. Those who know him say he was a good soldier and a good Muslim. (Nothing in Islam supports what he's alleged to have done - for any reason. The shootings are the act of a sick man.
But the US Army has more than a few sick men. Consider these news reports:
May 13, 2009: The US military charged an American Army sergeant on his third tour in Iraq with murder in connection with a shooting spree that left five fellow soldiers dead in a mental health clinic at Camp Liberty in Baghdad. Long-time observers of the US military say the shooting shows all the signs of a soldier pushed to the brink of insanity by repeated and consistent exposure to war. The 44-year-old Sergeant John Russell had spent many years of his life at war when he allegedly opened fire and killed five of his fellow soldiers. Russell was coming to the end of his third tour in Iraq and had also served deployments in Bosnia and Kosovo.
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