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November 06, 2009

Explaining the Ft. Hood Tragedy

Navy Hollis Cross posted from our sister blog, DC Metro Moms Blog.

I grew up in a military family.  My father was a career Air Force officer, as was his father.  My brother joined the Army a few years after high school and served two tours in Bosnia before he got out.  Of course then he gave my mother a heart attach by turning around and joining the Ohio National Guard.  Thankfully, he returned from a tour in the Middle East late last year. My husband spent 20 years in the Navy - 3 on active duty and then 17 in the Navy Reserves.

I also happen to live in the Hampton Roads area of Southeast Virginia, home to one of the largest concentrations of military and veteran families in the country.  I'm actually hard pressed to think of a close friend in the area that isn't associated with the military.  

In my professional life, I'm the New Media Director for Blue Star Families, a non-partisan, non-profit dedicated to empowering and supporting military families.  My community, online and in "real" life, is the military community and my community is hurting right now.

We don't know what caused Major Nidal Hasan to open fire in a soldier readiness facility on the U.S. Army's largest facility.  I don't want to speculate.  Besides, the reason for Hasan's actions is largely irrelevant to the Ft. Hood families affected by the tragedy.  For them, and for many of us, the tragedy is incomprehensible. 

But what I do know is that military families across all of the services are stressed beyond belief.  While I no longer have to deal with the threat of activation and deployment, I've watched friend after friend try to hold things together for 6 months, a year or 18 months at a time, only to do it all over again a few months after a service member's return.  Deployment after deployment is hard on a family, particularly families with children.  And when a soldier, sailor or airman (or woman) comes home, nothing is immediately easy.  Families have to readjust, learn new routines, and all too frequently help a service member cope with injuries.  Families also deal with the unseen wounds of war such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and even secondary PTSD, a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that can affect care givers (such as spouses, nurses and doctors) constantly dealing with the trauma of others.

Read the rest of this post at the DC Metro Moms Blog.