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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More