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How Blaming PTSD Could Affect Other Soldiers Returning From War

Fort Hood Press Office
At an April 7 press conference, Col. Paul Reese, III Corps and Fort Hood chief of operations, gave further details of the investigation into the April 2 shooting incident.

As everyone searches for answers to the Fort Hood shooting, the psychiatric community explores the reasons for the shooting that left four dead and 16 wounded at Fort Hood. Psychiatrists worry that blaming post-traumatic stress disorder will have long-lasting effects on the returning veterans who will be looking for jobs.

Dr. Harry Croft, a San Antonio psychiatrist who works to integrate mental health tools into the workplace for returning troops, said violent behavior toward others is not usually a symptom of PTSD alone.

“There are always exceptions," Croft said. "But murdering innocent folks that you don’t know – and especially who are your brothers and sisters, other soldiers – is very, very unusual.”

Although military officials said Ivan Lopez, the gunman, was being evaluated for PTSD, Croft believes the violent behavior is more likely related to Lopez recently being robbed and to the reported altercation with other troops.

“That complex of stressors might have caused feelings of suicide and ideas of suicide, and it might have been suicide by cop,” Croft said.

Croft worries that being quick to blame PTSD could alarm employers who might otherwise consider hiring veterans.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.