Is the inaction of the Army partly to blame for this week's shootings at Ft. Hood?
Retired Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who was shot six times by Maj. Nidal Hasan in the 2009 Ft. Hood shooting, told 1200 WOAI news in a very emotional interview that the Army needs to do a better job indentifying and dealing with mental and emotional issues in the ranks.
"We need to go ahead and stop talking about the problems and say what we are going to do, and just do it," Lunsford said.
Lunsford was eight feet away from Hasan when he opened fire in a soldier readiness center at Ft. Hood in November of 2009, and suffered six bullet wounds. Lunsford said the only reason he didn't die is because 'it wasn't my time to go home.' He now works in children's athletic programs and works as a motivational speaker.
Lunsford says while Spec. Ivan Lopez bears the ultimate responsibility for the shooting, it is significant that the Army says he was suffering from psychological and emotional issues. He says the brass fails to pay attention to problems of this nature, despite a service-wide commitment to provide the best psychological care for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Listen to them, they know," he said. "If we're asking for something, we're asking it for a reason. We are 150,000 mental health professionals behind the power curve for the problems that we have."
Lunsford says the Army is more interested in 'what on the shoulders' of fellow soldiers, meaning their rank, rather than understanding what's in their heads.
What advice does he have for the soldiers who are going through today what he went through five years ago, lying in hospital beds with wounds inflicted not by the Taliban or al-Qaeda, but by a fellow soldier.
"Stay resilient, rely on your training, and take time to talk to somebody if you have a problem." The Army says Lopez had some sort of 'altercation' at the post motor pool, where he worked as a truck driver, which may have triggered the shooting.
Friends of Lopez back home in Puerto Rico told 1200 WOAI's Michael Board he had gotten angry at the Army last fall, when he was only allowed 24 hours leave at the death of his mother.