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Fort Hood: The combat stress debate
The suicide rate among Fort Hood's returning soldiers is unusually high. Did their stress unhinge Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan?
 

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged killer behind the Fort Hood massacre, was trained to treat soldiers under stress. He worked in an atmosphere where the aftermath of combat takes a heavy toll -- Fort Hood has one of the highest suicide rates in the military. Did Hasan, a devout Muslim, just snap as he faced deployment to the war zone himself? (Watch a report about Nidal Hasan's fight against Iraq deployment)

Stress may have pushed Hasan over the edge: The motive's still hazy, say the editors of the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., Star Tribune, but this massacre raises "red flags" about combat stress. Maj. Nidal Hasan had never been in combat, but he "knew all too well the terrifying realities of war," having counseled returning soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center and at Fort Hood.
"A link to PTSD?"

Hasan may have been fighting "compassion fatigue:" It's not surprising to see a psychiatrist snap as he faces deployment, says Todd Essig in True/Slant. Treating soldiers traumatized by war is a "risky" job. Therapists can be stricken by "vicarious traumatization" -- also known as compassion fatigue. In this case, Nidal Malik Hasan was probably wounded psychologically long before he allegedly pulled the trigger.
"Vicarious traumatization: PTSD is contagious and deadly"

Hasan's faith's triggered another sort of torment: Maj. Nidal Hasan's aunt, Noel Hasan, said he'd asked to be discharged after enduring name-calling and harassment about his Muslim faith for years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, says Anne Davies in Australia's The Age. In his aunt's words, "He must have snapped."
"Why doctor snapped"

This is just the beginning: The military is overstretched, says Andrew Bast in Newsweek, and fighting two wars at once is clearly "taking a psychological toll on soldiers." With President Obama considering sending tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan, the situation could get worse. "It isn't much of a leap to argue" that further taxing our military will "guarantee that the homegrown terror on display" at Fort Hood will soon repeat itself.
"Is Fort Hood a harbinger? Nidal Malik Hasan may be a symptom of a military on the brink"

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SEE THE WEEK'S FULL COVERAGE OF FORT HOOD:

Fort Hood: The Al-Qaeda question
Fort Hood: What the world is saying
Red flags at Fort Hood
Sunday Talk Show Briefing: Religion's role in Fort Hood (Video)
Fort Hood: Obama's "flippant" speech
Fort Hood: Crime or terrorism?
Who is Nidal Hasan: A timeline of the suspect's life
What Kimberly Munley's heroism means
Fort Hood: Breaking opinion


 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

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