• December 27, 2014

Soldiers should be safe at home

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Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 2:13 pm, Thu Jan 23, 2014.

I spent two days last week doing team coverage of the trial of Maj. Nidal Hasan.

There are a limited number of seats in the courtroom for media, and I was one of 10 journalists inside to hear the guilty verdict read.

For that reason, I was interviewed by TV news outlets to “paint a picture” of what it was like inside.

Leading up to the verdict was about seven hours of deliberation.

While the jurors were inside a room discussing the case, dozens of journalists sat around Club Hood, waiting to report on their findings.

This left a lot of time to chat as we all skimmed Twitter, lined up reaction interviews and prepared to send out the news.

I was asked, as I often am, why I chose to work in Killeen, and I have to honestly tell them I didn’t. Like most people in the area, I was brought here by way of the Army.

As I was giving one interview to an NBC reporter whom I had been talking with, she asked me what the verdict meant to me as the spouse of a soldier in Afghanistan.

I was completely caught off guard. I think I answered something along the lines of my heart is with the victims families, because it very easily could have happened on a day my soldier was at the processing center.

And I meant that, but the more I thought about this question, I realized that the events of Nov. 5, 2009, have much more significance to those whose soldiers are not downrange.

This horrific attack took place at home in a place where we expect to be safe and protected.

I know my husband is in a war zone.

I know he is in a place where people want to shoot at him and hate everything his uniform stands for.

The worry I experience is normal and expected.

But I shouldn’t have to feel that way when he is home, sitting in a medical building on a military installation. I shouldn’t worry that another soldier — a major — could walk up at any moment with laser-sighted weapon and open fire.

When my husband prepared to deploy, both in 2011 and this year, he went to Fort Hood’s Soldier Readiness Processing Center, and I couldn’t help but think about what happened there. Could it happen again?

And I hate that I think of it, but I’m sure I’m not alone.

If I could do that interview again that is what I would tell people: I expect my husband to be in danger in Afghanistan. He’s deployed to war and carries a weapon every day in anticipation of danger.

So this verdict doesn’t really affect how I feel about what he is doing downrange. But for the tens of thousands of families whose soldiers are home, I’m sure they think about it. And that’s the sadness of this whole ordeal. Hasan took away the feeling of safety and the expectation that soldiers are safe among their own.

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