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 British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid