The High Number Of Shootings On Military Bases Reflects The Long-Term Effects Of War

by John Haltiwanger

At around 9:30 am yesterday morning, Fort Lee Army Base in Virginia reported that it was on lockdown due to the presence of an active shooter on the premises.

Active shooter incident reported at CASCOM HQ, Bldg. 5020. All personnel enact active shooter protocols immediately. Post on lockdown. — U.S. Army Fort Lee (@ArmyFortLee) August 25, 2014

The situation was resolved quickly, but details are still emerging. In terms of what we know so far, the shooter was female, a 17-year veteran soldier that served in Iraq, and she was injured during the incident.

According to authorities, she barricaded herself in her office and was apparently under a great deal of mental distress. Her name has not been released by the army.

According to reports, the base was on lockdown for less than an hour. The shooter was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, but died later in the day from her injuries. Apparently, the shooter's wounds were self-inflicted and this may have been a suicide attempt.

Fort Lee Lifts Lockdown After Female Soldier Shoots and Wounds Self via @politicususa #p2 #P2b — Sarah Reese Jones (@srjones66) August 25, 2014

In the United States, we have become far too accustomed to hearing about shootings in the news. Regardless of the circumstances, one is left wondering why this cycle of violence continues.

This is particularly true when looking at the prevalence of shootings on American military bases. This is hardly the first time we have witnessed such an incident.

It has barely been four months since the last shooting on a military base. On April 3, 2014, a soldier killed three people and wounded 16 others at Fort Hood in Texas. The soldier, Spc. Ivan Lopez, was an Iraqi war veteran and was being treated for mental illness on the base.

In 2014 alone, there have already been three shootings on US military installations.

William Tecumseh Sherman, the infamous Civil War general, once stated that "war is hell." For some soldiers, that hell continues long after the fighting stops. War is physically and mentally scarring, and it's often extremely difficult for those who have been baptized by combat to return to a normal life.

One can hardly blame them. For those of us who have not faced the horrors of battle, we can only begin to imagine what many soldiers have experienced. Shootings on military bases are often a side effect of war. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once aptly stated, "Violence begets violence."

In some instances, shooters on military bases have had political motivations, which can also be tied to the conflicts the United States has been involved in.

This was true for Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed 13 people and injured 32 others in the worst mass shooting on a US military base in American history at Fort Hood in 2009. Hasan claimed that his actions were motivated by a desire to protect Islamic insurgents from American aggression.

Mental illness is also one of the leading factors of shootings on military bases. This is particularly evident when one considers the mass shooting at Washington Navy Yard, for example.

This has also been true in regards to other mass shootings in the United States, such as the disturbing and tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Obviously, mental illness and firearms are a deadly combination.

A person with direct knowledge of such matters said that one thing is common with essentially all shootings on military bases: The individuals involved have military training, and they are familiar and comfortable with the use of small arms.

Soldiers are trained to be experts in violence, and are forced to live within confined geographic spaces in the presence of a large amount of weaponry. Hence, in that context, it would seem logical that the probability of violent acts being committed would be quite high.

Military installations are highly regimented and strictly regulated. Accordingly, they can be a very stressful environment for young men and women. In the past two decades or so, there have been around 20 shootings on military bases across the United States.

As details continue to emerge surrounding this new incident at Fort Lee, here are some of the most tragic instances of violence on US military bases in recent history:

Fairchild Air Force Base

On June 20, 1994, Dean Mellburg killed four people and wounded 23 others at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington. Mellburg was also killed.

Fort Bragg

On October 27, 1995, an Army paratrooper named William J. Kreutzer Jr. killed an officer and wounded 18 others during morning exercises at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

Fort Hood

On November 5, 2009, Nidal Hassan went on a rampage at Fort Hood in Texas. This was the worst mass shooting on a military base in American history. The incident left 13 people dead and 32 injured.


On March 21, 2013, a tactics instructor named Eusebio Lopez shot and killed two Marines at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. Lopez also took his own life.

Washington Navy Yard

On September 16, 2013, former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis (shown in the image above), killed 12 people in a mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard in the nation's capital. Alexis was later shot and killed by police.

Navy Station Norfolk

On March 24, 2014, a military police officer was shot and killed aboard the USS Mahan in Norfolk, VA. The shooter, Jeffrey Tyrone Savage, was also killed. In this instance, the shooter was not a member of the military but a civilian with a criminal record.

Want to know what to do if you ever find yourself in the presence of an active shooter? This advice was given to us by an individual with military expertise:

1. Run as quickly as you can away from the area.

2. Find an appropriate place to hide, and stay low.

3. Make sure you are quiet. Do not draw attention to yourself. Turn off your cell phone, etc.

4. Fight as a last resort. Do not confront the shooter if you do not have to, but if you feel that your life is on the line, fight for it.

Photo Courtesy: Twitter