News / USA

US Navy Yard Shooting Highlights Military's Treatment of Mental Issues

US Navy Yard Shooting Highlights Military's Treatment of Mental Issuesi
X
September 20, 2013 12:26 AM
The emotional state of the gunman in the Navy Yard shooting has emerged as a central element of the investigation, with questions being raised about why Navy contractor Aaron Alexis retained a security clearance despite a background of psychiatric problems. VOA’s Pentagon correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Luis Ramirez
The emotional state of the gunman in the Navy Yard shooting has emerged as a central element of the investigation, with questions being raised about why Navy contractor Aaron Alexis retained a security clearance despite a background of psychiatric problems.

The more investigators learn about Aaron Alexis from police, military, and medical records, the more questions come up about why he retained his security clearance and the badge that allowed him to enter a Naval building in the U.S. Capital and kill 12 people. 
 
Rear Admiral John Kirby, a spokesman for the Navy, said this is among the matters being looked into. 
 
"Investigators are looking at this background very carefully. We in the Navy are also taking a look at his time and service in the Navy to see if there is anything that we missed that maybe we need to have addressed a little bit differently, " said Kirby.
 
Alexis had run-ins with the police, including gun offenses and misconduct while he was in the Navy, and more recent reports of psychiatric problems. He told police recently that he was hearing voices, information that police say they relayed to the Navy.
 
He also sought treatment at a government-run medical facility for veterans.
 
That, before going to gun store and buying a weapon to carry out the shootings.
 
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has announced a broad investigation to see where the system failed.
 
The shooting raises further questions about the military's screening for mental illness.   
 
Last month, former Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, who had been diagnosed with gender identity and anxiety disorders, was sentenced for espionage for the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history.
 
Barbara Van Dahlen, a clinical psychologist, founded an organization that provides mental health services to veterans and believes the problem lies in recognizing the importance of mental health.
 
 “Our country is not very good at recognizing mental health as part of overall health so it's not just a military issue.  We don't often feel comfortable raising our hand and saying, 'gee, I'm depressed or I'm anxious. I need some help.'  Within the military, even more so.  There's an ethos of 'be tough, handle things,'” said Van Dahlen.
 
Alexis was never deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and there are no indications he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.  But Van Dahlen said reports of hallucinations and his recent visit to a hospital emergency room with complaints of insomnia could have triggered a closer look. 
 
“You know, sleep disturbance often tells us, there's something going on, what is that about?  What is the agitation about?  And so we need to do a better job, and there's a lot of effort under way,” said Van Dahlen.
 
The Defense Department is now taking a hard look at how its screening process can spot warning signs. Secretary Hagel said the Pentagon will be looking for what went wrong and where.
 
“Why they didn't get picked up, why they didn't get incorporated into the clearance process, what he was doing, those are all legitimate questions that we're going to be dealing with,” said Hagel.
 
With Aaron Alexis, none of the problems, taken individually, was enough to revoke his building pass and security clearance.  Now, officials are rethinking the process with the hopes of averting another tragedy.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

update At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
September 20, 2013 3:13 AM
What triggered mass shooting? It is out of the question. The answer is gun.


by: rbockman from: Philly
September 19, 2013 10:54 PM
The military's role is to defend the U.S., to fight wars that we are forced into, not to tend crazy people. His mother knew he was nuts and did nothing.


by: Rajan Nagarkar from: Morristown, NJ
September 19, 2013 10:32 PM
If I was a family member of any of those killed, I would want to know the name and title of the individual who approved the security clearance for Alexis based on the background check conducted by USIS. Ultimately, this is the individual who carries the most responsibility for these deaths. Private sector job applicants are routinely rejected because of simple transgressions of youth and things like DUIs. How could this guy have possibly made it through for a jog involving national security?!

Comments page of 2
 Previous    

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid