Fort Hood Shooting Stokes Employer Fears Over Stability of Vets

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Friday, 04 Apr 2014 04:41 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Veterans already struggle to find work when they return to civilian life, but the recent Fort Hood shooting is raising further questions among employers about the mental health and stability of those who have returned from the battlefield.

Fort Hood shooter Spc. Ivan Lopez, who served in Iraq for four months and was suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, has some asking if the military is doing enough to treat soldiers when they return home, Stars and Stripes reports.

Lopez killed four and wounded 16 when he opened fire at the Texas military base on Wednesday. Gen. Mark Milley, the Fort Hood commander, has said that officials believe that "the fundamental underlying causal factor" is that Lopez was suffering from "an unstable psychiatric or psychological condition."

According to Milley, Lopez was never wounded in action, but did suffer from a "self-reported" traumatic brain injury after returning from Iraq.

Army Secretary John McHugh told Congress Thursday that Lopez "was undergoing a variety of treatment and diagnoses for mental health conditions, ranging from depression to anxiety to some sleep disturbance," but there were no signs of violence or possible suicide.

A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation Poll found that 31 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans cite worse mental and emotional health after returning from war, and 36 percent of those say that they experience angry outbursts often.

A 2012 study from the Disability Management Employer Coalitions's Workplace Warriors Think Tank found that most businesses are not fully prepared for both the physical and behavioral health conditions, including major depression and PTSD, that veterans bring. 

The United Postal Service (UPS) employs almost 24,000 veterans, which makes up about 7.5 percent of its workforce in the United States. UPS has made a great effort to recruit veterans and has worked closely with veterans organizations to achieve this goal, adding 13,000 more veterans in 2013 alone.

UPS Public Relations Director Susan Rosenberg told Newsmax that it has had nothing but a positive experience with the veterans UPS employs.

"Our UPS experience has been very positive," Rosenberg said. "It is sad that there have been challenges for some who have left the service. But the UPS experience has been one of mutual benefit to gain motivated, skilled members of our workforce."

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