Fort Hood Shootings

As you may have heard, this afternoon at Fort Hood in Texas, a shooter killed 12 and wounded 31 people. The shooter, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was killed during the incident.

While this is not a breaking news blog, my initial reaction was fear that the shooter had or could be construed to have had a mental disability that would be seen as the basis of the attack. And because emotions run high after this kind of disaster and people feel protective, there can be some nasty and hurtful rhetoric flying around. (I have already seen some vile and awful things said about his potential Muslim heritage. Needless to say, none of that will be tolerated in comments.) We wanted to create this as an open thread, safe space kind of area to discuss any concerns or thoughts raised by this incident.

Here’s a few resources I’ve seen, more will undoubtedly develop as the story progresses:

  • If you are concerned about specific individuals in the area, check the Red Cross Safe and Well List for more information.
  • Local blood donations are being accepted at Scott and White Memorial Hospital, 2401 S 31st St, Temple, TX?. They will be open until 10pm local time today and re-open at 8am tomorrow. ETA: The hospital has closed to donations for the day due to overwhelming response – please try them again tomorrow.
  • To find other locations to give blood, check the Red Cross website. Even if you live nowhere near Texas, consider donating blood (if it is healthy for you to do so) to prepare for future disasters.

Our warm thoughts and hope for speedy recovery go out to those affected by the shooting and their friends and families.

By 6 November, 2009.    mental health, military, violence   



30 Comments

  1. I was heartsick to hear this. I really…don’t know what else to say. I hope that those in surgery/recovery right now pull through, and I cannot express how sorry I am to all of the people who lost loved ones today. They are in my thoughts.
    .-= meloukhia´s last blog ..More Words of Wisdom From AskMen =-.

  2. We lived within a mile of where the shootings happened. Still waiting to hear from our friends – it’s a huge post, so statistics are in our favor that they’re not among the 11, but it’s still nerve-wracking and deeply unsettling. My husband’s current agency will be part of the investigation, so his life will be hell for a bit. (He may be a bit too empathetic for his line of work.)

    The major was a psychiatrist. There are others in custody. I’m inclined to think that this is not a mass shooting that had anything to do with the shooter’s mental state.

    Sadly, until the shootings at Virginia Tech, the town that Ft Hood is in – Killeen, TX – was the site of the largest mass shooting in the US (the Luby’s massacre is what it’s known as locally.)

    I know diddly about blood donation – I was exposed to Hepatitis, so they don’t want mine – if anyone knows of a good resource for finding what meds, etc., are OK or not for donating blood, that might be a great thing to post a link for.

  3. Good call, LeeLee: Here’s the Red Cross Eligibility Guidelines for donors. Most blood banks use these or something similar.

  4. That’s terrible! I hadn’t heard about this.

    Query: My brother worked in a hospital for a while and when we got to the topic of blood donations he went on this huge rant about how the Red Cross makes money off the donated blood and are barely a charity and that if you want to donate blood in order to help people you should just go to your local hospital instead. Can anyone confirm/deny this? I do want to donate blood because my blood type is quite rare (if I’m able – apparently if I lived in the US I wouldn’t be eligible on account of being European?!) but I’d like it to go where I know it’s going to be of help.
    .-= Kaz´s last blog ..You are now looking at an Officially Official Aspie (TM) =-.

  5. gah – must stop reading media. just saw someone – a progressive feminist who i respect – say that this had better force the military to pay attention to mental health among the troops. which – i of course support more funding and services and willingness to recognize and support military personnel with mental illness, but that seems a separate and distinct issue from preventing this kind of disaster. ghghghghrawehrhgh.

  6. Thanks, Meloukhia!

    . . .and I’d read a variety of stories,* except* the one linked to in the post, and that’s the only one to mention that the others in custody have been released.

  7. Kaz, the Red Cross is indeed a very problematic organization, and they do in fact sell (at a profit) the blood they collect. It’s better to go through a local hospital or blood bank, if that’s an option for you. There’s pretty much always a shortage of blood, especially rare types, so those who can definitely should make a habit of it.

    Fun fact: Much of the opposition to addressing HIV in the blood supply in the 1980s came from the Red Cross. Bad Blood by Judith Reitman is a very informative book about the blood trade in the United States and the tainted blood supply in the 1980s.

    ETA: The Red Cross has also been criticized in the past for the way in which they use donated funds; their administrators get paid extremely well and the amount of each donor dollar that actually goes to direct assistance has been very low in some years.

    As you can tell, this is a bit of a pet issue with me. And now I will stop derailing.

  8. I’ve been keeping the entire Ft. Hood community in my thoughts since I heard the news.

  9. my opinion only: i have not heard those critiques of the red cross and i don’t believe that they profit off donated blood. there are concerns about the proportion of financial donations they collect that goes to administration rather than products and services for affected people. i don’t have the data or comparisons on that issue, though. there are also significant and valid concerns about their blood donation guidelines, which seem to discriminate against gay men and others. for that reason, some people i know refuse to donate to the red cross.

    bottom line, though, i don’t think there’s a bad place to give blood and believe it will be of help whether you donate to the red cross or elsewhere.

  10. Not to keep adding to the derail, but, yeah, I meant to mention in my previous comment that while I have serious problems with the way the Red Cross handles its blood supply and business practices, if you want to donate blood and they are the only venue available, you should donate through them rather than not donating at all. It’s just that hospitals or local blood banks are better if they are available/accessible.

    (Here’s their Charity Navigator profile, incidentally, which has some breakdowns on financials.)

  11. And on conversation-related topics, I find it really upsetting that any time there is any sort of violence among US troops/veterans, mental health enters the conversation almost immediately. There’s no consideration of any other factor, just assumptions about the person/people behind the violence.

  12. ok, there is a lot of talk about the red cross and blood for profit that i hadn’t known about. thanks for raising it, kaz and meloukhia! (for those curious, here’s some links here and here)

  13. I read the article at Yahoo after seeing this and 3 things made me so mad.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_fort_hood_shooting

    First – “The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case publicly.”

    2 paragraphs later – “The officials, who had access to Hasan’s military record, said he received a poor performance evaluation while at Walter Reed. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because military records are confidential.” HIS RECORD! This is so wrong, I can’t believe they included that.

    2 more paragraphs later – “Officials were investigating whether Hasan was his birth name or if he may have changed his name, possibly as part of a conversion to Islam. However, they were not certain of his religion.” As a former navyy brat, the last sentence rings really false – they know everything.

    Shame on Yahoo for those things, but kudos for not including “un-named coworker who asked for anonymity said he’d been acting weird lately.” Then they would have hit the speculation bingo!

    I heard about this at the hospital, and I am so sick over it. I have so many friends and family in the military, though none there that I know of.
    .-= Kaitlyn´s last blog ..Spoon Theory and Me (It’s all about me) =-.

  14. I just read several news updates which indicated that Major Hasan is injured, but not dead, and actually in stable condition, though still being treated as a suspect.
    .-= meloukhia´s last blog ..Thursday Night Family Circle =-.

  15. Yeah, it was spokesperson-a-gogo in the early stories. That’s NOT how they’re supposed to handle it. And the records! Ah! My husband has given up checking the stories tonight because his office will be handling lots of media tomorrow. To block it out, he’s watching MST3K.

  16. I just read this and was like WTF?!!!
    “Fox News host Shepard Smith asked Senator Hutchison on air: ‘The name tells us a lot, does it not, senator?’
    “Hutchison’s response? ‘It does. It does, Shepard.'”
    via the Nation
    I really do not like my senators.

    btw for those outside of Texas – Hutchison wants to run for Texas Governor in 2010.
    .-= Kat´s last blog ..la_sabre: #myheritage is German, English, Czech, French and a bit of Welsh. My great-great-grandpa was a German draft dodger. =-.

  17. poking in from nursing my excruciating pain:

    If you have a loved one in the Service at Ft. Hood, there is a good chance that the Red Cross is the only way to find out their status. They are the only people allowed to confirm or deny an injury or death of a Service member in an incident.

    If you contact the Red cross it is best to have their full name, rank, and SSN and address, also a name in their Chain of Command doesn’t hurt.

    Even if you aren’t trying to find out about the possibility of an injured loved one, if you have a loved one in the Military it is good to have this information on file somewhere, because, like I said, that is the only way to get this information. Also, if something happens to family, the only way that a service member can get Emergency leave is with a Red Crss message…and they will need that info to get that message to the Service memeber.

    Back to my hole to nurse my pain.
    .-= OuyangDan´s last blog ..I’m sick and all you get is this LOLcat… =-.

  18. Apropos the blood donation thing…I just had my blood turned down by the UK NHS on the grounds that (and get this), “You’re seeing your psychiatrist too often” for bipolar disorder. I’m still stunned – since when has bipolar been blood borune?

    It’s bizarre.

  19. Lexin, I don’t know why being bipolar wou;d matter, but the NHS seems to be extra-cautious in general. They decided they didn’t want my blood any more, several years ago, because my veins are too small, apparently. Once they failed to get the needle in the right place and I ended up with a massive bruise, and once it took them two goes, and they decided it was too hard to find a good vein. (I don’t think they’re particularly fragile, just narrow.)

    I wonder whether those things about the Red Cross are US-specific? I’d heard about risks associated with paying for blood, but not attached to the name of the Red Cross.
    .-= Legible Susan´s last blog ..Good symptoms, bad symptoms =-.

  20. Kat, I’m so with you. Our senators are vile people. Hutchison, of course, is sprinting as hard as she can to the right to appeal to The Base. Some casual racism now and then is good for the poll numbers.

  21. Can someone address the fact that, in this shooting, everyone is breathlessly asking “Do you think he’s mentally ill???” (the exact words of the hostess on whatever morning show I had on this morning) …

    The shooter was a psychiatrist for people at the base who were dealing with PTSD from their experiences as soldiers.

    Someone pointed out (meaning it in quite a different way, I think) that these soldiers were probably verbalizing resentment against the people they viewed as their enemies — people the shooter identified with. (Which makes it sounds downright fucking reasonable, but again, they are using it as a dogwhistle.)

    We are rushing to paint the shooter as mentally ill, because of course someone who commits crimes and violence must be mentally ill by default, and his victims as normal folks — when in fact it is the other way around: a person who was presumably “sane” killed people with mental illness.

    Once again, the mentally ill population is no more likely to be violent than the sane population — but the mentally ill population is twice as likely to be victim to violence as the sane population.

    And this reality is completely erased by our mainstream societal conception of crime and illness.

    I know it’s comforting to convince ourselves that we are safe from ever committing monstrosities if we are normal, but our comfort erases the dangerous reality that non-normal people live in every day. And that is disgusting.

  22. amndaw, I’ve been avoiding coverage of this for the racism and for exactly the prejudice against people with mental illness you describe. The portrayal of people who commit acts of violence as mentally ill is comforting to the neurotypical — it means they don’t have to identify with that person or consider the ways they might be like them or the systemic factors that may have contributed to their violence. Not that those systemic factors make the shooters any less culpable for what they do — it means only that there’s more culpability to go around than we like to think.

  23. i read a great quote this morning from the washington independent that speaks to why people are speculating so aggressively:

    To be very clear: it makes no sense to speculate about Hasan’s motivations, and we’ve heard, for the past 16 hours, no shortage of wild speculation that stigmatizes a lot of people. Hasan is alive. He will be interrogated and tried. We will presumably learn soon why he committed the cowardly actions he committed. Until then, those who speculate only reveal their own prejudices.

    i just wish there weren’t so many prejudices to be revealed. 🙁

  24. “Once again, the mentally ill population is no more likely to be violent than the sane population — but the mentally ill population is twice as likely to be victim to violence as the sane population.”

    This, right here, folks.

    Listening to the speculation about this has been really upsetting for me. Even news programs that I usually think of as fairly evenhanded are pulling stuff out of thin air and dwelling lasciviously over the tiny scraps of information they have been able to mine.

    I also think it’s really sad that numerous Muslim organizations in the United States have felt obliged to rapidly come forward with condemnations stressing that this man acted independently (and actually against) Islam, and that they love America. It really upsets me that every time a crime is committed by a Muslim, there’s an expectation that all Muslim organizations should immediately rush to apologize/condemn, as should individual Muslims. As though the actions of one Muslim are the fault of the Muslim community as a whole. Yet, when crimes are committed by people of other religious denominations, there are no such expectations.

  25. Yeah, I think it’s comforting for some to think that a mass-shooter is insane rather than motivated by hate, etc. It’s easier to believe that people were killed randomly than to believe they were targeted by a sane person. And there’s the questions of examination of systemic issues mentioned above. No one wants to think they may be part of a problem. Yet, in many ways and to varying degrees, we all are. I think that’s just a condition of life. The question is whether one leads an examined life or not, I think. For me, knowledge is worth more than a feeling of security, but I have a hard time begrudging those who choose that secure feeling, as long as they don’t stomp all over others to maintain it.

    The man who committed the mass shootings in Killeen in 91 lived on the same street I moved to 16 years later. It was chilling to think that he grew up there in a house just a few down from mine, developed his way of thinking there, and left from that house with his weapons to shoot dozens of people.

    The immediate speculation about mental illness is part of a distancing act, too. Mentally ill? Not one of us. Of Jordanian descent? Not one of us. Soldier? Not one of us. That last may seem odd, but I think it’s true. In base towns, military members are a separate class, not necessarily marginalized, but separate. Sometimes they’re lauded and others avoided, depending on how the wind blows.

  26. LeeLee, I live in the neighborhood John Hinckley, Jr. (the man who attempted to assassinate President Reagan, apparently as part of his stalking Jodie Foster) grew up in. I went to the same schools. I knew (and got beat up by) a whole lot of kids whose parents were about his age. There was a whole lot of denial going on in the early eighties but yeah he was one of us.

    Sure stalkers are creepy but I doubt they’re all mentally ill. (Hinckley was found to be not guilty by reason of insanity, so we’re going to assume he was.) They act out of a sense that they are entitled to not only women’s bodies and attention but to a specific woman’s body and attention and get really upset when ignored or thwarted. These are systemic issues — the same issues that seemed to have motivated George Sodini when he went hunting women last year.

  27. I’m a Muslim and the shootings have been the subject of discussion across the Muslim blogosphere and Facebook (a few of the more prominent ones are from the South). It appears that this guy had been the focus of a lot of racial and religion-based harassment and was resisting deployment. Still, it doesn’t justify randomly killing people when he could have just refused. He’d have been court-martialled but eventually discharged. He did not have to do this.

    The Muslim organisations condemned it because it was a high-profile act by a Muslim against the American state. I think they were right to do so, for the sake of the American Muslim population. I don’t believe they should every time a Muslim, or a Muslim group, does something bad which may or may not have been in the name of Islam. We shouldn’t rise to the “condemn it or else” threats because these things are never enough for a lot of people. I came out and said on my blog that western Muslims should not condemn the Bombay attacks last November because they had nothing to do with us and we should not satisfy the demands of people who regard Muslims as guilty until proven innocent. But this is entirely different, in my opinion.

  28. Regarding blood donation in the United States:

    It costs money to test, process, and arrange for distributing blood to hospitals. As far as I know, all blood collectors do charge a fee for the blood, but that is to help pay for the processing including the salaries and health insurance of the people who work for the blood collectors and processors.

    The ban on MSM* donation in the United States comes from the FDA, and all US blood collectors must follow it. However, the organizations representing US blood collectors have been urging the FDA to change that policy for years. The previous administration was completely resistant; the current one is willing to reconsider. http://www.advocate.com/Health_and_Fitness/Health_and_Treatments/HIV/Blood,_Sex,_and_the_FDA/
    If you disagree with the policy and are eligible to donate, I would urge you to write to the FDA commissioner and still consider donating.

    In many areas, the Red Cross is not your local provider of blood. Put in your zip code at http://americasblood.org and it will let you know the closest center.

    Dept of Defense also maintains their own blood supply system, although there is some crossover in that I am sure if they are ever low they would obtain it from civilian organizations.

    Finally, if you wish to donate blood I would urge you to consider making appointments for next week or several weeks from now, as enough people have very likely already donated for the specific victims, and your community always needs steady donors. In both the 2005 London bombings and the aftermath of 9/11, the response was such an oversupply that many units of blood went unused before the expiration date.

    *Men who have sex with men, not mainstream media.

  29. *sigh*
    The one site outside this one I’ve seen actively renounce pinning the shooter’s actions on PTSD did so by using ableist language (calling Hasan an “armed madman” and quoting a comment referring to the PTSD spinners as “stupid”): http://attackerman.firedoglake.com/2009/11/06/against-ptsd-slander-against-islamophobia-for-responsible-reporting/
    .-= niemaodpowiedzi´s last blog ..Quick Hit: Phone Anxiety =-.

  30. kaninchenzero – I know that neighborhood! My husband lived very close to there, and I have friends I used to visit in that area. Don’t worry – I’m not a stalker. 🙂