The latest shooting on the Fort Hood military base has put post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, back in the spotlight.
A local veteran who worked through the disorder said it couldn’t have sparked the violent rage Wednesday that killed four, including the soldier who opened fire.
Brian Taylor Urruela lost his leg fighting in Iraq. His Humvee was struck Oct. 22, 2006, by two improvised explosive devices in Baghdad. He was medically retired from the Army in 2011. While in the hospital, the cumulative effect of fighting, being injured and the facing a lonely recovery pushed him over the edge.
Doctors diagnosed him with PTSD. Blaming the Ford Hood shooting on PTSD is misguided, he said.
"It's comforting for humans to assign blame on something. In this scenario we are pointing the finger in the wrong direction," he said. "It manifests itself internally. It's not something we project outwardly. It's something that is inside. It's a loss of hope. It’s wondering what you are going to do next. It's nightmares and thoughts of what you have been through in your time over there."
Dr. Glen Smith with the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital makes the same point.
"PTSD and violence do not go hand in hand,” he said. “Once again the experiences a person had may be a violent situation, but that does not make them, per se, a violent individual. Disturbing? Yes. Violent? No."
Smith said it takes a month to diagnose PTSD.
The latest Fort Hood shooter was in the process of being diagnosed, officials said. He was being treated for depression, anxiety and sleep problems.
Urruela wants to make sure the shooting does not harden the stigma surrounding PTSD.
"You are worried that if you have this asterisk attached to your name – (if) it is in the medical files you have anxiety, depression, PTSD – that people are going to view you differently,” he said. “That is the problem we need to break."
The Veterans' Affairs Hospital in Tampa offers help. Its PTSD crisis hotline can be reached at 800-273-8255.