Opinion

Salon 'makes sense' of Fort Hood shooting with the 'crazy veteran' stereotype

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Afghanistan,Iraq War,Media,Veterans,Charles Hoskinson

It was only a matter of time after the deadly shootings Wednesday at Fort Hood, Texas, before some media outlet would roll out the now-tired stereotype of the war-damaged, crazed veteran.

In this case, it was Salon, which published a piece by Natasha Lennard purporting to "make sense" of the shooting. In it, she writes:

"As more and more troops return from Afghanistan ... U.S. soil will welcome home troops from a mad world; it would be insanity indeed to assume that madness will be left behind in conflict-beleaguered Iraq and Afghanistan. When troops come home, the madness of war comes with them."

Nonsense.

The shooter, Spc. Ivan Lopez, who killed three people and wounded 16 others before killing himself, was being treated for depression and under evaluation for post-traumatic stress disorder, Army officials said. He served four months in Iraq in 2011 but did not see combat, and had not previously been seen as a risk for violence.

His father, also named Ivan Lopez, told the New York Times that the death of his mother and grandfather in the past year, along with the transfer to Fort Hood, surely affected his son's condition.

"We have very strong evidence that he had a medical history that indicates unstable psychiatric or psychological condition," Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Mark Milley told reporters. "We believe that to be a fundamental, underlying cause."

War is crazy. The people who serve in it mostly aren't.

But it has become a disturbing fad to blame the craziness of war for just about every bad thing military veterans do or suffer, from suicide to joblessness (the unemployment rate for veterans is lower than for the workforce in general) to violent crimes like the one Wednesday at Fort Hood.

Such certainty may be comforting compared to never knowing why these bad events occur, but it comes at a cost: Tarring all veterans with the same unfair stigma.

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