The Edmond Sun


April 7, 2014

The Dallas Morning News: Military must study mental illness more closely

DALLAS — Let’s stipulate that no amount of security can guarantee an end to shootings like the one Wednesday at Fort Hood. A motivated attacker, especially one able to get inside the perimeter, will inflict damage.

This knowledge does little for our sorrow today. This second such horrific event in five years at the nation’s largest Army base leaves us struggling to comprehend and united in grief and anger with those who serve and their families. Four more dead. An additional 16 or more wounded. Too many questions, not enough answers.

And while it’s logical to connect the Nidal Hasan and Ivan Lopez shootings, if only by victims and location, take care to not miss the larger point.

Regardless of what the Army says, Hasan was a terrorist who attacked fellow U.S. troops from a warlike impulse: to protect fellow Muslims on the battlefield. His Nov. 5, 2009, rampage left 13 dead and more than 30 wounded. A military jury found him guilty in August 2013 and sentenced him to death. Today, he sits paralyzed on death row in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

We will learn more about Lopez in the coming days. What we know now is that he was mentally ill and, after four months as a military truck driver in Iraq in 2011, was seeking treatment at Fort Hood, living in nearby Killeen with his wife. He dressed for his rampage Wednesday in green camo and shot himself in the head when confronted by military police.

In most respects, he appears to have far more in common with Aaron Alexis, the Washington Navy Yard gunman who killed 12 and injured three in September 2013. Police killed Alexis to halt his deadly spree.

The Lopez shooting consumes us today. What’s important is that we not let it slip from memory as we have Alexis and too many other mass killers.

What it should make clear is that the military must study and resolve how its internal culture has been altered by 13 years of active war footing, since the initial assault on Afghanistan. According to a Department of Defense survey, about 7 in 10 active-duty military enlisted personnel are 31 or younger, along with about 4 in 10 officers. These young men and women have spent much of their careers — and all of their adult lives — at war.

The stress exacts a toll. How much? Can the military do a better job of screening for mental illness, from recruitment to discharge? And, importantly, can the military use those assessments in a way that’s fair to the assessed and those who serve around them?

Mental illness rarely manifests in mass killing, but mass killing often results from mental illness. We must find a way to study and treat the vast scope of mental conditions without sending the message that we believe everyone with mental illness is a potential mass murderer.

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  • Is English getting dissed?

    Is the English language being massacred by the young, the linguistically untidy and anyone who uses the Internet? Absolutely.
    Is that anything new? Hardly.
    Many words and expressions in common parlance today would have raised the hackles of language scolds in the not-so-distant past. For evidence, let’s look at some examples from recent newspaper articles.

    July 31, 2014

  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
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