Terror of war followed us home

By Anita Tedaldi: CNJ columnist

The Fort Hood massacre is shaking the military community and Americans everywhere. Nothing seems more horrific, if it’s even possible to quantify these events on some horrible scale, than a soldier firing upon his comrades.

As a military wife I can’t begin to imagine the pain, suffering and fear the families and the community must be experiencing at this moment. Thinking and writing about it hits too close to home.

The suspect and alleged gunman Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, an Army psychiatrist at Darnall Army Medical Center, opened fire at a military processing center at Fort Hood Texas, shooting at soldiers deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq.

So far, 13 of these brave men and women are dead, 12 soldiers and 1 civilian, and 31 are injured. All at the hand of another soldier, someone who was supposed to help and support them.

I remember writing about other shootings, at Virginia Tech and Columbine, and interviewing some of the people involved. The horror and fear that is struck in those communities is heartbreaking. But this case is more personal for me, because I identify with the military community and feel the betrayal of trust that hits so close to home.

We have taken my husband to the deployment processing center many times. We have seen the other service members and their families deploy, and I have found comfort in seeing other servicemen next to him. I felt kinship with their families and with the young men and women who were leaving. I worried about what might come after they got off that plane overseas, but never thought they were anything but safe before they left and found comfort in knowing that they were there for each other.

I realize that this is simply an illusion and that things can happen anywhere.

It’s a tragic story and I hope that the families of the victims can find some comfort in knowing how much the country is supporting them.

This world is very different than even 10 years ago. I used to think that military bases where some sort of safe haven, a place where I didn’t have to worry about crime like I did outside. But of course, it’s a false sense of security.

The new reality is that we must be vigilant at home. And perhaps this is the same lesson of any domestic attack, whether or not the events at Ft. Hood are ultimately classified as “terrorism.”

We must not live in fear, and we do not need the same degree of wartime vigilance as our deployed servicemen, but we must not be in denial either, and we cannot assume that the borders of our country — or even the fences of the base — will keep us safe.

War is about violence, and sometimes that violence follows us home. It follows us home as military families, and as Americans.