Ft. Hood Shooter May Have Slipped Through Mental Health System Cracks


Like so many before him, the apparent gunman in the latest Fort Hood shooting “slipped through the cracks” of the military's mental health system, reports Politico. With a slew of new veterans returning from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's becoming clear that the system will need to be as impermeable as possible to prevent future violent outbursts. “This is an incipient problem,” said Allen Lowe of Ashcraft & Gerel, who represents civilian victims of last September's shooting at Washington Navy Yard that killed 12. “There's going to be over the next two years a wave of these guys coming back … but they're going to come back with the same kinds of emotional experiences that those before them had. And when you just run the numbers exponentially, you can anticipate there will be more problems.”

Spc. Ivan Lopez, 34, identified as the shooter who killed four, including himself, and wounded 16, was an Army truck driver who served in Iraq. He was being treated for depression and anxiety, said base commander Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, and was in early stages of determining if he had post-traumatic stress disorder. The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act authorized military mental health caregivers concerned about violence to ask patients about personal weapons. Only caregivers can ask those questions. Lopez spoke with a psychiatrist last month. There's no indication yet if his caregivers felt he was dangerous or warned anyone ahead of Wednesday's shooting. “Our regulations require that mental health professionals have a duty to warn and a duty to protect others,” said Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren.

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