Calling the shooting rampage at his base last week "a very unfortunate isolated incident," the post commander at Fort Hood said that counselors are being deployed to assist the hundreds of soldiers, first responders, hospital workers, civilians and family members who were directly affected by Thursday's violence.
"The entire resources of the United States Army are at the disposal of Ft. Hood and its population to help deal with the impact of this event," Lt. Gen. Robert Cone said, addressing what he described as the "healing phase."
"Our initial focus in these last three days has really been working on getting them the kind of behavioral assessments and counseling for the traumatic stress incidents they've been through," he said at a press briefing this afternoon.
Those resources include 18 combat stress control teams, 41 behavioral health specialists and 57 ministry support teams, with additional resources coming in as needed.
"This will be a long-term process in terms of applying these resources against the need. The problems from this don't occur in the days right after the incident; they tend to happen down the road, 30, 60, 90 days. That's really what we're concerned about."
Cone said soldiers who are trained to face such stresses were better prepared to handle the situation as it arose last Thursday when a gunman opened fire, killing 13 people and wounding 29 others, before being wounded himself by a civilian law enforcement officer.
Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old Army psychiatrist, is accused in the killings.
"So you saw a very quick return in many cases of soldiers; this is what we do," Cone said. "Many of us are used to being in theater, and something like this happens and we come back right away. We do a memorial service, we send our comrades home, and then we move on with the missions."
"The real challenge that we have has to do with the other folks that are here at Ft. Hood: The civilians that were working and became a part of this, the families here at Ft. Hood who had always previously considered this to be a safe place, the children that are here - many of whom were locked down in schools. We are right now in the process of executing a comprehensive program to address the needs of all of these populations."
Also being addressed are soldiers who have had behavioral problems (such as PTSD) in the past. "We don't know what the impact of something like this is on them, so we are pushing across the board to try and help them and address these issues," Cone said.
There will also be a previously-scheduled town hall meeting this evening at which Cone will talk about support services and tomorrow's memorial service, which he hoped would be as inclusive as possible.
Attending what he called a "traditional" formal memorial service would be President Barack Obama and the family members of the 12 soldiers and 1 civilian who lost their lives. Cone said the ceremony, scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. CT, will focus on family members and the Fort Hood community, and will include prayers, speakers, Bible verses, a sermon, music, and a roll call of names of the dead, followed by a 21-gun salute.
Cone did not answer questions directly pertaining to the shooting suspect, but when asked about responses to warning signs of potentially violent incidents such as this, he said, "We are going to take a very hard look at ourselves and anything that could have been done that could have prevented this . . . to make sure we're taking care of our own."
More Coverage of the Tragedy at Fort Hood:
Ft. Hood Shooting: Composure Under Fire
Fort Hood Suspect Awake, Army Says
Report: U.S. Knew Hasan Sought al Qaeda
Radical Imam's Web Site Praises Hasan
Fort Hood Reflects, but Work Carries On
List of Fort Hood Dead, Wounded