The aftershock of the Fort Hood shooting that left four dead and 16 wounded April 2 can be felt far and wide.
“This was a tragedy, no question about it,” said Harker Heights Councilman Sam Murphey. “Many lives have been permanently damaged by the actions of this (individual).”
Many Fort Hood soldiers call surrounding cities home and many veterans raised families and retired outside the post’s main gates.
“Our hearts have been heavy for both the victims and their families from the April 2 shooting on Fort Hood,” said City Manager David Mitchell. “We proudly wear our designation as a Purple Heart city. Our soldiers and their families give so much to ensure the freedoms we hold so dear. We stand, as always, ready to serve.”
Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, met with mayors from Cove, Killeen and Heights on April 3 to brief them on what transpired and what neighboring communities can do to support soldiers and families.
“I was impressed that a three-star general would take the time to address city leadership in the midst of this tragedy to help us understand what was happening,” said Mayor Rob Robinson, adding city and its staff stand ready to assist Fort Hood or address any need requested.
Murphey, who served 22 years in the military, said the military’s treatment of behavioral health is a far cry from what was in place when he was on active duty.
“When I served, you would never admit to having a problem in fear that you wouldn’t get promoted or be able to attend the school you want to go to,” he said. “The Army has gotten much better at taking care of our soldiers after 12 years at war. I’m sure the Army will do a ‘sweep down’ to ensure this never happens again, but I don’t think you can predict that type of behavior.”
Like Murphey, Robinson is a veteran with more than 20 years of service and is all too familiar with the pains of being at war, having served two years in Vietnam.
Despite the differences in war zones and climate, Robinson said the people here are resilient.
“The fact is this tragedy happened, life will go and we will press forward,” he said. “There isn’t much a city can do, but we are here as individuals to help our residents deal with issues they have.”