Fort Hood II: Negligence Beyond Atrocity

“I’m the daddy.”

“I am the daddy,” he said again as he strode into the large group instruction room at the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) facility at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The speaker was a strapping African American Army major, wearing a flight suit, and about to teach a class on leadership to AMEDD officer basic students, several hundred of us.

“And you all are my children,” he continued.

The major explained that as a leader in the United States Army one of your primary duties was to “care for your soldiers.” The foundation of Army teamwork is the buddy team, you and one other soldier, always aware of each other’s status and state of mind.

The larger picture was that from the command point of view, commanders have ultimate responsibility for their troops. This is a sacred duty, and one that deserved the analogy presented by the major, that while in command he looked after his troops as if they were his own children.

FORT HOOD, TX - APRIL 2, 2014: General Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood Commanding General, speaks to media during a press conference about a shooting that occurred earlier in the day at Fort Hood Military Base on April 2, 2014 in Fort Hood, Texas. Milley confirmed that four people were dead in the shooting, including the gunman himself. Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images

Imagine the frustration – probably beyond comprehension if it’s not you – of a commander, or a parent, who is unable to properly care for or protect their troops or children, not because they don’t want to, or don’t have the means at their disposal, but because of political protocols manifest as anti-gun laws on military bases.

The newest active shooter incident at Fort Hood, Texas, where four are dead and 16 wounded, should renew our efforts to tell Congress to pass H.R. 3199, the Safe Military Bases Act, introduced by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) in September 2013. The bill was in response to the Washington Navy Yard shooting which took the lives of 12 Department of Defense personnel on Sept. 13, and the first Fort Hood shooting on Nov. 5, 2009, when 13 lives were taken.

Said Stockman, “The Safe Military Bases Act would allow trained soldiers on bases to carry weapons in case of a terrorist attack, to prevent further tragedies like Fort Hood and Navy Yard from happening again.”

He added that the sites are especially “vulnerable” targets for terrorists.

A nation at war cannot afford to leave its most valuable asset, its soldiers, unprotected. Even in peacetime there should be better security for those who might fall victim to a rogue shooter intent on revenge or terror. The world we live in today is a dangerous one, and to turn one’s attention away from obvious risk is negligent at best, and at worst immoral.

Soldiers are trained in the safe care and use of firearms, and in a combat zone carry their weapons and ammunition wherever they go. Doing so on military bases would be a no-brainer if practical and caring commanders were allowed to make that call.

Vehicles are checked outside of the Bernie Beck Gate, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Fort Hood, Texas. At least one person was killed and 14 injured in a shooting at Fort Hood, and officials at the base said the shooter is believed to be dead. (AP Photo/American-Statesman, Deborah Cannon)

In an active shooter situation, seconds matter, and it takes minutes for armed law enforcement to arrive on the scene, often too late to prevent an atrocity. And make no mistake, what happened twice now at Fort Hood and at the Washington Navy Yard were not mere tragedies. Far beyond sad accidents, they were deliberate acts that were predictable and preventable. Therefore, those ultimately responsible for the health, safety and welfare of those killed and injured are negligent.

Barack Hussein Obama is the Commander in Chief of all military forces of the United States, and therefore bears full and undeniable responsibility for the newest atrocity.

He failed to properly protect and defend our protectors, not just once, but many times, and not just here on U.S. soil. He clearly does not see himself as “the daddy.” He, his wife and two daughters enjoy around the clock armed security with the Secret Service, and rightly so, but how much less valuable are the men and women who wrote us all a blank check for everything up to and including their lives, that he would ignore incidents of violence against them when they are most vulnerable?

Until or unless all Islamists are dead, or no longer have the means or will to kill us, we must be vigilant and use all means necessary to defend and protect ourselves. That means the passage of H.R. 3199 as at least a start.

Now let’s talk about the shooter’s reported condition prior to the shooting. As facts become available we are learning that the shooter, Army Spc. Ivan Lopez, was being evaluated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and treated for “depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances.”

US Army Secretary John McHugh (L) listens while Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno speaks during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill April 3, 2014 in Washington, DC. Sec. McHugh and General Odierno appeared before the committee to speak about fiscal year 2015 budget but also addressed yesterday's shooting at Fort Hood,Texas where 3 people were killed in addition to the shooter who took his own life. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI

Secretary of the Army John McHugh stated that Lopez was taking “a number of drugs,” including Ambien to help treat his symptoms, and that the special was seeing a military psychologist.

Lopez drove a truck in Iraq in 2011 and was not reported to have been involved with any combat in that tour. Lopez had a previous tour in Iraq, in 2008, but sources did not elaborate on any details from that deployment. Fort Hood base commander, Lt. Gen. Mike Milly said that Lopez had recently complained of symptoms relating to traumatic brain injury (TBI), but did not elaborate.

Founder and president of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation, Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, states on her website that TBI is the “hallmark” injury of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that only 36 percent of the estimated 400,000-plus soldiers affected get treatment for TBI at Veterans Administration medical facilities, although all are eligible.

I spoke with Dr. Gordon on the phone regarding the recent incident with Spc. Lopez, and she reminded me that TBI is a “brain hurt,” not a “mind hurt,” and that treating the physical damage of TBI with psychotropic drugs only makes the situation worse.


We have a duty to protect those who are vulnerable to attack, but we also have an obligation to take care of those who protect us.

Spc. Lopez was hurting, and in Dr. Gordon’s opinion probably “fell through the cracks” of the military medical system, which will never be an excuse for what he did, but when soldiers complain of symptoms associated with service-related injuries, they need to be properly diagnosed and then treated. The practice of throwing drugs at potential PTSD patients and TBI sufferers must end. Dr. Gordon and her colleagues need your help to continue the fight for the proper diagnosis and treatment of nearly half a million returning veterans from the War on Terror.

Please contact your congressional representatives and let them know you want H.R. 3199 passed NOW, and that you want them to do everything they can to support the proper diagnosis and care of those in the military who suffer from TBI and PTS/PTSD. We all have a responsibility to defend and care for those who defend our freedom and liberty.

NOTE: It was important to Dr. Gordon to tell me that she didn’t want her comments on TBI to be misconstrued as promoting allowing soldiers to carry weapons on military bases.

I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter @mjgranger1

What to Do About School Security in the Age of Deranged Shooters

What’s more important than your family’s safety and security? And what is more important to you when your children are at school than their safety and security? So why is it we see more and better physical security for neighborhood banks and jewelry stores than we do for our public schools? Are money and jewels more valuable to us than our children?


If you’re like me, the answers to those questions are obvious, but the solutions in public schools are more complex than they should be because of an irrational political correctness that ascribes more to fantasy perceptions than to unfortunate realities. However, in terms of physical security, what’s good for one is not always good for all, or even most. Each community must decide for itself a comfortable level of security. We cannot wait, nor should we expect our federal government to weigh in on better security for our children at school through a national gun control initiative. There’s so much more to the issue than that convenient cloak under which are hidden myriad other contributing factors as to why or how a young gunman did what he did.

If the problem is security, then the solution must address that issue in order to be effective. Everything else is secondary. The fact is that all shooters plan their attack; whether for a few hours or for up to several years, they plan exactly what they want do, when, and how, and then rehearse it, if only in their minds. They envision themselves being successful, which feeds their sick motivation to actually carry out the crime.

Shooters select targets that are “soft,” or appear to carry a higher probability of success than for failure. Nothing would be worse for the perpetrator than failing to execute their depraved fantasy. So, the critical task in preparing to discourage similar attacks than what took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School is to “harden” the potential target, or at least give the appearance and impression that if chosen, it would be less likely that an attack would be successful.

How to do this when normal protective security practices cannot take place at public schools, such as varying one’s schedule and being unpredictable in day-to-day operations? Boys and girls arrive at the same time, via the same transportation system every day. They also take recess, out door physical education, and athletics at predictable and reliable times each day, usually in the open on favorable weather days. Again, the goal is to harden potential targets; nothing is going to completely protect a child at school unless you make them into what some would call prisons, but making the opportunities available to a potential shooter fewer, and his potential success less likely are the goals.

While in Iraq, I was part of dozens of convoys, some short, some long, but each one, whether it was near or far, was unique. Planning was detailed and exhaustive, but each thing we did, or didn’t do, we knew would contribute to either our potential success or failure, and failure was not an option. We knew bad guys were out there, watching us, learning from our behavior, so we were constantly evaluating our performance on security. Schools need to do the same thing.

Currently, public schools drill more for fires than any other potential hazard, and that comes from a history of horrible fires. But the time has come to add intruder drills that focus on best practice protection and reaction, in cooperation with local law enforcement and emergency response agencies – the groups that would most likely be first responders to an incident. Since schools practice at least a dozen fire evacuation drills each year, escaping rather than locking down as a best way to avoid an active shooter could be incorporated into the drills: lock the doors, and then escape through a second means of egress, already required by fire safety code, and then rally at a predetermined location off-campus.

Schools need to employ security experts, like those at R.R.I.S.C. (Rescue Recovery Investigation Security Consulting – who will work with administrators, teachers, support staff, parents and students so that they feel prepared should the unthinkable happen. (And if it can happen in Newtown Connecticut, it can happen anywhere. It’s a new age, and one that won’t pass anytime soon.) Consulting with professionals can lead to innovative and effective plans that can save lives in active shooter situations. One solution may be to employ a company like R.R.I.S.C. to train school staff to perform their own protection services and employ a quick reaction force (QRF) for active shooter situations. A QRF could aid local law enforcement in isolating and then eliminating an armed threat. They could also perform triage and traumatic first aid care while protecting wounded victims from further harm. Good candidates for QRF responders could be teachers and administrators, but school support staff, such as custodians, maintenance mechanics, grounds keepers, clerical, school aides, hall monitors, and security staff, some of whom may be former military, may provide an excellent resource for enhanced school protection. Teachers must stay with their students in the classroom, so training them to use firearms for protection makes sense. A potential shooter who wants to enter a classroom by force would be met with force, causing a failure or at least a delay in his plans.

Politics be damned: we can’t afford to sit around and argue about motive, gun control, mental health, violent video games, etc. We need to keep our schools safe and secure, and we do that by hardening them with physical security devices and personnel who will present an undesirable target for a potential shooter. We want the shooter to pick someplace else. If everyone had that attitude then the shooter’s fantasy would have to remain just that.

In the mean time, approach your local school district board members and administrators and then ask them what they are doing to make the school facilities hard targets, and undesirable settings for potential intruders. Hold their feet to the fire and organize with parent groups, such as the PTA, booster club, or alumni associations. Offer to help pay for a professional physical security risk assessment, and then follow-up by asking what more can be done to keep your children safe in school. Lives depend on it, maybe even your own child’s.