The Norman Transcript


April 7, 2014

Soldiers home but not yet safe



The same day, a new member of the U.S. Senate, its only Iraq-war veteran, introduced a bill intended to improve mental health care for veterans. Sen. John Walsh, a Democrat from Montana, sponsored the Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans Act.

Whether the bill gains any traction remains to be seen. Walsh, Montana’s former lieutenant governor and a 33-year member of the National Guard, was appointed to his seat in February.

But the bill sets up a review process for people who might have been wrongfully discharged from the military for behavior that could have a mental health component. It also tries to meet the shortage of psychiatrists by offering to repay medical school loans in exchange for long-term work with the VA. And it seeks to streamline mental health care by taking Department of Defense and VA records electronic, among other measures.

“Returning home from combat does not erase what happened there, and yet red tape and government dysfunction have blocked access to the care that saves lives,” Walsh said in a statement when introducing the bill.

In time, more might be learned about what demons might have been driving Lopez that day at Fort Hood, how much mental health concerns might have played a role in his murderous actions.

Lopez was on Ambien, a sleep aid, among other medications. He was being evaluated for, but had not been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. His story may eventually give weight to Walsh’s argument that more needs to be done to provide seamless mental health care to veterans.

Lopez served in Iraq for four months in 2011. He’d been transferred to Fort Hood in February from another base.

The vast majority of the 2.6 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are able to return home, find work and resume their lives.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Congress must accelerate solutions

    Congress has roused itself, at the last minute, and now is scrambling to save the Highway Trust Fund. Better late than never. Better still will be if lawmakers agree to come up with the money to prevent the fund from becoming insolvent. ...

    July 20, 2014

  • The heavy burden of college aid

    Return on investment is a clear measure of what you get for your money. Incredibly, the federal government doesn’t apply that simple concept to the $137 billion a year it spends on college financial aid....

    July 19, 2014

  • James bears weight of Cav’s dreams

    LeBron James has done it all on a basketball court. He’s a great scorer, rugged defender, proven big-play leader and champion. But that might not be enough in Cleveland, where he’ll also need the powers of Merlin the Magician....

    July 17, 2014

  • Steve Boaz.jpg Breathing Rhythm Studio a center for creativity

    Recording engineer Steve Boaz has brought his musical ambitions to fulfillment in a downtown Norman studio.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Matt Lauer is so last century

    How about we rename “The Today Show” the “Yesterday Show” since host Matt Lauer asks questions from 1953? Isn’t what Lauer asked GM CEO Mary Barra about whether she’ll do “well” at being simultaneously an executive and a mom about, oh, 30 ...

    July 14, 2014

  • Religion’s role shrinking

    Surveying the response to last month’s Hobby Lobby decision, I was struck by a comment from progressive Massachusetts senator and possible Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren....

    July 12, 2014