Late Breaking News
DoD Releases Final Review of Fort Hood Report
WASHINGTON, DC—DoD will do more to provide commanders and supervisors with the information and tools they need to identify and respond to internal threats, according to a new report.
In August DoD released its final review of an independent panel’s recommendations made in response to the Fort Hood shooting last year in which Maj Nidal Hasan, an army psychiatrist, is accused of killing 13 and wounding over 40 people. The new report outlines the actions that DoD will take in response to the panel’s recommendations.
Led by retired Navy Adm Vern Clark, former chief of naval operations, and former Army Secretary Togo West, the independent panel examined whether existing Army policies were applied to the Army psychiatrist accused in the shooting spree. In addition, the panel examined what policies DoD has in place to identify employees who could pose a threat to others, among other things. The independent panel’s report included a number of recommendations on how DoD can strengthen its programs and policies to identify individuals within the military who might pose a threat.
DoD Secretary Robert Gates wrote in a memorandum attached to the department’s final review of the panel’s report that he had “carefully considered” the panel’s recommendations and was directing the department to respond to them by “taking appropriate action.” The initiatives that DoD will pursue will “significantly improve the department’s ability to mitigate internal threats, ensure force protection, enable emergency response, and provide care for victims and families.”
Identifying Internal Threats
In response to the panel’s findings, DoD will issue interim guidance to commanders and civilian supervisors on how to identify internal threats. Three studies will also be conducted in order to “deepen” the department’s understanding of internal threats and the findings will be integrated into the existing DoD programs.
DoD will also improve upon tools to identify servicemembers who might be violent. The independent panel found that policies governing the assessment for pre- and post-deployment medical risks do not provide a comprehensive assessment of violence indicators. Currently, post-deployment assessments often just ask one question to assess whether a servicemember has serious conflicts with others. A follow-up provider interview directs medical providers to conduct a risk assessment by asking whether members are considering harm to self or others.
These assessments, however, “do not address all risk factors thought to be associated with the potential for violence.” In response, DoD will conduct studies to “inform pre- and post-deployment assessments and refine behavioral indicators.” DoD is also planning to add another question that correlates with violence on its mental health assessments. Guidance for health care providers will also include detailed follow-up questions to assess violence risk.
Another problem that the independent panel identified is that civilian healthcare providers who care for servicemembers are not required to notify military treatment facilities or commanders of indicators of violence that they identify during treatment. In response to this issue, DoD stated it will review policies and procedures “to ensure that appropriate information from civilian providers to whom servicemembers have been referred from the MHS may be provided to commands and military medical personnel.”
Another question that was addressed by the independent panel was whether DoD healthcare providers had enough support. DoD stated in its report that it has developed a strategy to improve resilience that addresses the health and well being of healthcare providers. The strategy “accounts for various factors, including deployment length, post-deployment reconstitution, and dwell time, and assesses the advantages and disadvantages of using temporary providers to fill shortfalls.”