In Fort Hood, Mourners Hold Candlelight Vigil
GUY RAZ, Host:
We're back with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
The Army post at Fort Hood, Texas, continues to mourn its dead today. Thursday's shooting rampage killed 13 people and wounded 30 others. Texas Governor Rick Perry visited some of the survivors today at Scott and White Hospital in Temple, Texas.
RICK PERRY: What I heard time after time in those hospital rooms is they're honored to be able to serve our country. In the days to come, our priorities are going to be simple: support the families of those affected by this violence, support the criminal investigation that is ongoing, continue supporting our military as we always have.
RAZ: NPR's Wade Goodwyn is in Fort Hood. And, Wade, you went to a candlelight vigil last night at the football stadium in town. What was it like?
WADE GOODWYN: Well, the thing, I think, I was struck by was it was clear that the vigil was a well-established routine. I mean, this was a pretty big moment for me, but I could tell that the attending crowd had done this before. And when we interviewed people, the soldiers and the families, after the vigil was over, they'd tell us, I've been to too many of these already.
Now, I mean, last night certainly was unusual because the attack had come on the post. But there was a certain weary quality to the grief.
RAZ: Weary because, obviously, people hold vigils for soldiers normally killed in battle, in the theater, right?
GOODWYN: Right. They hold - everybody knew where to come to the football stadium and where to go and get their candles and - not something that you intuit before you get there. But once I looked around I thought, gosh, they've been doing this for a while.
RAZ: Wow. Wade, what's the latest? What do we know on Major Nidal Hasan, the man accused of being the shooter?
GOODWYN: Well, he's been flown out of the area down to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. We hear he is still unable to speak. There are more reports about Major Hasan's mental condition before the shooting. We're hearing that he was agitated about the war. He was unhappy and stressed out about his pending deployment to Afghanistan. We're hearing from his relatives, both here in the country and abroad, that he felt isolated in the Army.
Given his political leanings, that's not surprising. But it appears the major is going to live and the FBI's investigation is continuing.
RAZ: And Wade, what can we expect coming out of Fort Hood over the next couple of days?
GOODWYN: Fort Hood has to get back to business. It's two wars to fight and President Obama is coming for a memorial service on Tuesday. I'm sure that will be a very big deal. But by Wednesday, I believe the post will probably be back to being focused on its mission.
RAZ: Now, Wade, this shooting, along with one in May, raised questions about the Army's approach to the mental health of its troops. What is the Army saying about this now?
GOODWYN: Well, there's a number of questions here. One is: is the Army big enough to fight a two-front war? There are plenty of soldiers here at Fort Hood who are doing their fourth deployment. This is a big burden on them and their families psychologically. The Army's brass's answer to this question is that the Army is growing. You know, there are tens of thousands of soldiers larger than they were just two years ago.
As to the Army's procedures for identifying soldiers or officers who were potential threats to themselves or others, I don't see how the generals can feel good about that. I mean, 18 dead by fratricide in the last year and a half is a pretty big number.
But how an organization with a million members is supposed to spot and neutralize internal threats based on psychological profiles, that's a tough one.
RAZ: That's NPR's Wade Goodwyn in Fort Hood, Texas. Wade, thanks so much.
GOODWYN: It's my pleasure.
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