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Fort Hood- A View From the Outside


My day was long and exhausting. My world centered around an MPRE test which I had to take on Saturday and have been studying for. The MPRE is a Professional Responsibility test lawyers need to take and it is one more step of the already tedious bar exam so my stress level was wavering throughout the cold Michigan day. I also had various other things that needed to be taken care of (Tutoring students, working on my business, completing articles etc.) By 7 pm, I was just about ready to fall asleep when I checked my voicemail. I noticed a strange number with a (254) area code appeared and I was curious who the message was from on the other end. Then I heard his voice say, “Bill, I’m okay. I’m sure you probably heard the news but rest assured I’m alive and will be touch soon.”

The voice on the other end was my best friend Joe Andrews. Joe is a military lawyer known as a JAG Officer. While we met during out time in Michigan when we were both in law school, Joe is currently living in Texas and is stationed in a place you may have heard of called “Fort Hood.” Joe was on base when the gun fire began and despite hearing his calming voice on my cell-phone message claiming to be alright, I thought the worst.

As I rushed into my apartment I frantically starting calling his cell-phone, going to his Facebook, calling other friends, trying to get in touch with his family. I wanted some more information, I wanted some more reassurance and most of all, I wanted to know why this happened? The only answer I received is the number Joe called me from was a landline because cell-phones were not getting reception and the Fort was on lockdown but things were going to be okay and I grew amazed how someone who was a potential victim was calming me down when I lived thousands of miles away from the carnage.

The story that hit the media is that at 1:30 yesterday afternoon, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39 year-old Army psychiatrist who graduated from Virginia Tech and was licensed to practice in the state of Virginia was living in Fort Hood, Texas where he worked opened fire and killed 13 fellow soldiers and wounded at least 30 more. Chaos and open-fire ensued and the killer was shot 4 times and is now on a ventilator.

The gunfire broke out at the Solider Readiness Center on the 339-mile Fort Hood base. Fort Hood, which is the largest active duty army base in the United States, uses the readiness center to help soldiers who are ready to be deployed or who are returning from overseas to undergo medical screening. Close to the Readiness Center, soldiers were readying to go to a graduation ceremony for troops and families who had recently earned degrees. A day that was supposed to be full of joy and accomplishment ended in terror and tragedy.

The story that hit home was that my best friend works at the Readiness Center as often as two times a week. By the grace of God he was not there yesterday. Sadly, many other hard-working soldiers were and families lost an abundance of loved ones in a place that was supposed to be a union of protection and civility.

As for the shooter, Major Hasan, he is an American Citizen of Jordan descent. He had recently told he was going to be deployed to Iraq and the feeling was this could’ve set off this horrific tirade. In a statement released by the killer’s family, they stated how saddened they are for the loss of lives and the horrors of the surviving members of these families will have to endure.

There has been a video released where Hasan is seen going to a convenience store to get his traditional cup of coffee and hash brown and he speaks to someone behind the counter and we’re told that he and the individual behind the counter spoke of his being deployed and his issue of potentially killing fellow Muslim’s. The deployment and the battle of his heritage may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back and led to these innocent deaths but we can not be certain. At this juncture, we have nothing more than speculation.

In times such as these, we really need to come together as Americans. I don’t have all of the answers and we may never know the full store as to why a decorated Army psychiatrist completely lost control and devastated the lives of so many and while I feel for the families, selfishly, I am grateful today that my best friend was not one of the fallen hero’s.


photo: EPA