FORT HOOD – Several Texas elected officials spoke to members of the media outside the main gates Friday to express their support to the wounded and the families of the deceased.
Gov. Rick Perry was among several elected officials who also visited the wounded at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.
"In a larger sense though, there aren’t any easy answers to what occurred here and there’s no way to wish away the suffering that is occurring to those that have been caught in this very senseless act of violence," he said about the shooting that left four soldiers dead, including the shooter, and 16 others wounded.
In his speech, he expressed his appreciation to the first responders and "the professional way they took care of business."
"In Texas we are very proud of the fact that this state loves the military. We work with them both professionally, we work with them as part of our family in this state, and this state remains ready to lend any assistance that we can be prepared to do whatever we need to do at the earliest moments," he said.
On Wednesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety immediately dispatched a variety of forces to provide assistance. There were 26 Texas Rangers, more than 20 troopers, 11 CID agents dispatched to the scene as well as well as a DPS helicopter.
"It’s times like these … when you see the resilience of the military families," he said. "You see the what we have known for a long time, unfortunately this is the second time we’ve had to deal with a tragedy on this post, but you still see it in the eyes of the people you meet, you see it in the handshake that they give you – the strength of these people. They will recover from this latest tragedy. They’ll heal their wounds and they will go forward."
Perry said everyone will learn a lesson about what occurred Wednesday with hopes to minimize the chances of this ever happening again.
"We’ll mourn for those that we’ve lost," he said. "We’ll find out the answers that we can and we will continue this vital mission that the post and the men and women across the country have serving in our military. Again, Texas is ready to help."
Fielding questions from reporters concerning topics like what the Army is doing for soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and soldiers carrying weapons on post, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said now is not the time to talk politics or policy.
"At this point, today, we need to be focusing on the victims. Praying for their recovery and helping this community come back together," he said. "There will be plenty of time to have discussion about public policy issues going forward. ... You see the families and communities coming together and this is a community that is a strong community, it’s a military community, it’s a community where love of service and love of our nation runs deep."
Perry echoed Cruz's sentiments about getting answers at a later date.
"I understand the interest in that, and that’s fine, but let’s stay focused on the real short-term needs in this community, on this post and that is those who have been wounded and those that have lost loved one," Perry added.
While Cruz and Perry were meeting with the wounded earlier today, one soldier, who is recovering from bullet wounds, asked Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, III Corps and Fort Hood commander, about the possibility of getting into Ranger School.
"What a terrific testament to the bravery of these soldiers even within hours of being wounded, he was interested in going forth and serving on the front lines protecting our nation," Cruz said. "Right now, today, millions of Texans and millions of Americans are praying for these men and women, are praying for our soldiers, are praying for the first responders. They are praying for this community. I would urge all of us to continue to lift these men and women up in our prayer. This base, this community, will grow stronger. But right now we need to pray for continued strength, continued resilience, and we need to thank God for the courage and bravery of these men and women who risk their lives every day for our nation."
The Greater Fort Hood community is still reeling from the 2009 shooting when Army Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 people.
"It’s a shame that we are having to live through this scenario all over again," said State House District 55 Rep. Ralph Sheffield, R-Temple. "I’m proud of our soldiers and the veterans who live here in Texas. ... Continue to pray for them and really always, please, thank a soldier and thank a veteran for the service they have given this great nation."
District 54 state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen also spoke.
"We’re always proud of our men and women who wear that uniform. We treasure their presence. They go to school with our kids, they go to church with us, they live here among us," he said. "So, when something like this happens it’s painful. But I want you to know that this community loves our soldiers and their families and we will get through it. We just will."
Being the governor of Texas for close to 14 years, Perry said he wakes up every day not knowing what I’m going to be facing.
"Whether it’s a report on 9/11 2001 or whether it was months later that a major event had occurred in South Padre where a bridge had been knocked out – when I think about the hurricanes, when I think about the largest influx of people into our state with (Hurricane) Katrina and Ike. So, every day I never know what I am going to face as the governor of this state, but what I do know is that there are men and women who are as professional as there is in this country ready to step in to address the issues whether they’re natural disasters or what we had here – an individual and a tragic event. So, I don’t have time to be thinking about my personal needs. I don’t have time to be thinking about how this is affecting me. What I need to be doing is working with these individuals."
In relation to veterans coming back from conflict and having access to adequate services for PTSD and traumatic brain injuries, Cruz said everyone is concerned about" taking care of the men and women who are active duty in our military and taking care of our veterans."
"At this point, the investigation is still ongoing to understand what occurred and how it occurred. We need to let that investigation play out," he said. "You know, I will tell you, what was most striking visiting with the soldiers who were wounded, visiting with their families, visiting with the first responders, visiting with the doctors and nurses and health care providers who took care of the wounded was the resilience, was the strength. … In the midst of tragedy and in the midst of horrific loss of life you couldn’t help but be inspired. Americans, when we face adversity, when we face inexplicable horrors, we come together and that was the strongest sentiment I had was a sense of inspiration that at a time of adversity there are no partisan lines, there are no racial and ethnic lines we all come together as Americans to stand together to support our brothers and sisters. That’s what happened in the Fort Hood community."
Contact Vanessa Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7567.