KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. visited Soldiers April 28 to see how victims of the Fort Hood shootings are coping with the tragedy that occurred just months ago. Soldiers who had been shot or had witnessed the shootings were asked to join Casey.
"We know we are physically fit," Casey told the group. "We want to ensure our Soldiers are mentally resilient as well."
Casey spoke to Soldiers from various units including the 135th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, 467th Medical Detachment and the 20th Engineer Battalion. Each of these units had members who were shot. The 467th Med. Det., a Wisconsin-based Reserve unit, lost three Soldiers and 20th Eng. Bn., based out of Fort Hood, lost four among its 19 members shot.
Casey spent more time listening than talking during the 45-minute session as Soldiers explained how they continued to recover psychologically. Several of the Soldiers explained how the Fort Hood shootings have made them stronger.
"We still think about it a lot," Staff Sgt. Dawn Brewer, a counselor with the medical detachment said. "It has helped us understand what others go through. We are able to better empathize with what Soldiers are going through."
One member of the 20th Eng. Battalion told Casey the healing process continues and with each day he and his fellow Soldiers improve.
"We won't ever forget it," Sgt. Fernando Perez said. "We felt like we were in the safest place on earth when that happened. Eventually, you have to face it. Slowly, we are moving on."
Thirteen people died last November when Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire in a Fort Hood medical facility. Hasan is being held in the Bell County Jail in Belton, Texas, where he awaits trial.