In my first reporting on the Ft. Hood shooting I noted how counter-productive the Army’s regulations seemed in this particular case in which you had an officer desperate to leave the service but who couldn’t because of the service’s financial commitment to him.
NPR’s Liz Halloran has taken up a similar angle in a report on the use of conscientious objector status in similar situations. Apparently, Maj. Hassan contacted the Center on Conscience and War to ask whether the Army might honor such an application from him. The answer was negative for reasons explained in the NPR report. But what I found especially interesting was the Center director’s comment on the damage that was done in Ft. Hood because the service did not have a means to respond to this particular individual’s religious needs and convictions:
McNeil argues that if Hasan’s concerns about fighting Muslims had allowed him a different path in the military — even short of a conscientious discharge — last week’s events may have been avoided.”If he had been told that they were going to put a mark on his record, and keep him from advancing but never deploy him, they would have had an extremely well-trained psychiatrist still working for them,” she says, “and they wouldn’t have a bunch of dead bodies in Fort Hood.”