March 17, 2010
And he loved this parakeet dearly
Esquire, March 2010
Hood, Brian Mockenhaupt
Most of the time, the war doesn't exist to me. That's a terrible thing to say but true of everyone I know. It's not even on the news anymore. No one knows what's really going on and it seems that the most vocal are now tired of asking. It's far away. Reading an article like this brings it a little closer.
"Hood has been the lifeblood of the surrounding communities for nearly seventy years. With so many steady paychecks, the town has been insulated from the economic pain that has debilitated so many other places. Soldiers keep the restaurants full and the car dealers busy, and 70 percent of Killeen workers are employed by Fort Hood. The area had withered during the first Gulf war, when many wives and their children returned to hometowns, so Killeen built parks, improved the schools and public safety, helped build houses soldiers could afford, and lured popular restaurant chains so that when the next war came, families would stay. And when the war came, they stayed."
"It seems plain that Hasan had become radicalized and that the prospect of fighting a war against Muslims had contributed to the derangement. But Hasan also had a pet parakeet, and he loved this parakeet dearly, so much so that he would even let the bird eat from his mouth. And when he rolled over in bed one day as he took a nap and crushed the parakeet, Hasan would never get over it. And so to the guys at Ernie's Sports Bar, Hasan was a fanatic, yes, but moreover, a loser. And ultimately, the loser theory of Hasan's crimes may be more troubling than the terrorist theory. For in all the wide world, and at Fort Hood, too, there are a lot more losers than terrorists."
"Now it's obvious to everyone that Hasan should have been discharged from the Army. He received terrible performance reviews, colleagues complained about his extreme statements, and he made it known that his loyalties weren't with the Army. But it's also obvious why he wasn't kicked out. A decade ago, fewer than 80 percent of captains were promoted to major. Today, because so many officers leave the military, often burned out by repeated deployments, promotions have jumped to about 95 percent. And because Hasan served in mental health, one of the Army's most critical but most short-staffed fields, there was even less incentive to get rid of him. Between basic training, medical school, and a psychiatry residency, the Army had already invested twelve years and several hundred thousand dollars in Hasan."