Alice Embree : Here’s to the Soldiers of Fort Hood

Jackie Thomas at Under the Hood Coffeehouse near Ft. Hood. Photo by Cynthia Thomas / The Rag Blog.

Thoughts of Charles Whitman on the tower,
And the soldiers who come back broken from war

Bring the troops home and take care of them.

By Alice Embree / The Rag Blog / November 6, 2009

A call from Seattle alerted me to the shootings at Fort Hood. I called friends at Under the Hood Coffeehouse in Killeen and left messages. Then I drove by Monkeywrench Books to see if Bobby (an antiwar ex-Marine) knew about our mutual friends. Bobby was keeping up through Facebook.

Of course, Facebook. That’s how it is with this generation.

I headed home to cable television and Facebook, but all I could think of on the way to my house was Charles Whitman, another ex-Marine, on top of a tower shooting people under an August sun in Austin.

All afternoon, Victor Agosto posted news like staccato notes, “Post locked down.” “Thirteen dead.” On Facebook, I saw Michael’s message that he had not been shot.

I remembered how the phone lines got jammed when Whitman shot from the tower. It was 1966; the phones were landlines. Now Michael is texting from a bunker on a locked down base.

Victor finally sent a lengthy message about the site of the shootings: “SRP (Soldier Readiness Processing) is the pre-deployment process that involves medical, financial and legal paperwork/briefings. It takes all day to complete, sometimes several days. Soldiers must go through this process to deploy overseas. This is the process I was charged with refusing when I was court-martialed.”

So here’s to the soldiers who come back broken and find people to talk with. Here’s to the soldiers who come back angry and stand with red and black flags telling people why they’re angry about endless wars. Here’s to the soldiers who decide not to be deployed and go to jail instead. Here’s to Iraq Veterans Against the War and to Winter Soldier hearings where soldiers share their experiences. Here’s to Under the Hood Coffeehouse with its sign: “GI Voices; You Are Not Alone.” Here’s to the upcoming Warrior Writers event on Veterans Day where people can tell their stories.

And here’s to all the silent people who think their lives won’t be affected by these wars because they won’t be drafted and they don’t know anybody in the military. To them I can only say: Bring the troops home and take care of them.

[Alice Embree is an Austin activist and writer. She is a member of the board of the Ft. Hood Support Network and Under the Hood GI coffeehouse and was in Austin when Charles Whitman opened fire from atop the University of Texas Tower.]

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6 Responses to Alice Embree : Here’s to the Soldiers of Fort Hood

  1. It seems for all too long, the motto of our government and US leaders has been: "Make war – make money"……….

    I was a little toddler when my mother and I rode the train from Michigan to Fort Hood so we could see my dad when he came home 'on leave' during WWII.

    I also remember looking at the photographs my grandfather took during his service in WWI.

  2. Fed Up says:

    I had forgotten Whitman…that terrible day when we did not know if my brother down at UT was alive or dead! It was the same, wasn't it? I hadn't realized. I hadn't thought about it. I knew people later who were shot to pieces that day. I had not realized until this moment it was the same thing, it was the war!!

    Thank you, Alice, for another shining moment of clarity.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Whitman,
    It still hurts,the second heaviest day in my life.
    I remember a black stretcher carrier,
    carrying bodies of the dead, he kept saying "why, why would white folks do this to each other"? At the time they claimed it was a brain tumor in Whitman that provoked his action.
    I'm sad for all those hurt by the tragedy in Fort Hood. God bless you all.

  4. JoJo says:

    here is the statement fron U the H and IVAW:
    Joint Statement from Under the Hood Café and the Fort Hood Chapter of Iraq
    Veterans Against the War
    Our community is distraught by the tragic shooting at Fort Hood
    yesterday. We extend our condolences to the families and friends of the
    victims.
    As upset as we are about this incident, this shooting does not come
    as a shock. Eight years of senseless wars have taken a huge toll on our
    troops and their families. It’s time to admit that the wars in
    southwest Asia are in no one’s best interests. Bring the troops home
    now!
    The Army has also repeatedly demonstrated that it is more interested
    in making soldiers “deployable” than it is in helping them fully
    recover from PTSD and other mental health issues. This often leaves
    soldiers with few options other than to self-medicate with drugs and
    alcohol. The Army routinely deploys soldiers who are clearly suicidal
    and homicidal. Yesterday was a gruesome reminder of the possible
    violent consequences of this policy. We hope the Army now takes its
    duty to take care of soldiers more seriously.
    We demand transparency from the Army and other federal agencies involved with
    this investigation.
    Under the Hood Café provides military service members support with
    referrals to legal, financial, and medical services. It is a space for
    troops to freely express their views on the wars and the military. It
    also offers GI rights counseling. Iraq Veterans Against the War calls
    for the immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces in Iraq,
    reparations for the human and structural damages Iraq has suffered, and
    full benefits for returning military.

    Under the Hood Café

    Iraq Veterans Against the War – Fort Hood Chapter

  5. We deal with 9/11; the Oklahoma City bombing – the deaths of those in the camp of Jones; Kool-aid just as suicide, is dangereous.

    Sadly, there will be people who are unable to cope with the stresses of life, and more deaths will mark the dates and calendars of the future.

    So many have died in vain; so many – so brave – so trusting, and so wasted by the hand of a troubled mind…….

  6. Damn, Alice, you make me cry.

    I went ahead and posted this on the TxLAW website.

    Thanks.

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