Ft. Bliss: System in place to help soldiers with mental issues

Bliss officials can't confirm if Ft. Hood shooter sought help on post

EL PASO, Texas - Military officials confirm that SPC Ivan Lopez sought help for mental illness.

"We have very strong evidence that he had a medical history that indicates an unstable psychiatric or psychological condition," Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, Ft. Hood Commanding General, told a group of reporters Thursday afternoon.

Milley also confirmed that Lopez was stationed at Ft. Bliss from April 2010 to Nov. 2013 before being transferred to Ft. Hood.

Ft. Bliss officials couldn't say if Lopez asked for mental health treatment while he was stationed at the post.

Public information officer LTC Lee Peters said there is a system to help soldiers who need it. Soldiers may ask for help directly, or their commanding officer can refer them to a medical provider. Peters said the soldier will get helped the same day. Being seen for specialty care can take several days, said Peters. And if it will take longer, they're referred to a specialist off-post. Peters says there is a strong soldier support network on post.

"Ft. Bliss has one of the best programs (to recognize mental health issues)," said Peters. "Every soldier who comes here (goes) through training to help identify soldiers in need. So if that person doesn't come forward they can identify the symptoms and behaviors."

At Ft. Bliss Thursday evening, soldiers waited to perform the ritual of folding the American flag flying in front of Army offices while "Retreat" plays in the distance. The flag flapped at half staff -- a sign that distance doesn't dampen the sense of family among soldiers. And it's a reminder that what happened at Ft. Hood can happen anywhere.     

SPC Ivan Lopez left Ft. Bliss shortly after being diagnosed with a medical condition. Military officials at Bliss and Ft. Hood didn't specify what that condition was. LTC Lee Peters said Lopez was still deemed fit to perform his duties as a soldier.

comments powered by Disqus