Mullen Cancels Trip to Focus on Fort Hood Response
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2009 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff cancelled a trip to the University of Notre Dame to focus on the soldiers and families affected by the tragic shootings at Fort Hood, Texas.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and his wife, Deborah, were set to attend the Navy-Marine Corps Ball at the university in South Bend, Ind., tonight.
But the suffering of the families at Fort Hood certainly takes precedence, the admiral said in a videotaped greeting to the students and faculty at the university.
“We’re at a point now where we really have to move forward to aid those families, the wounded and those who are suffering so much,” the chairman said. “That’s really where we are putting our main effort.”
The attack killed 13 and wounded 30 at the Soldier-Family Readiness Center on the sprawling base.
“Where we’re focused right now as a military and as an Army is very much on these people who suffered so much in the last 24 hours, and in fact are members of units that have given so much to make such a difference in our nation in these wars,” Mullen said.
The chairman said there will be many challenges, but the military will reach out to the families and the adjacent community of Killeen to help all heal and find closure.
Military officials also are speaking with the leaders of Virginia Tech. The college in Blacksburg suffered a similar incident in April 2007, when 32 students and faculty were killed. Military leaders are working with Virginia Tech “to try to understand how they handled this and take those lessons that are relevant from there and fold them into how we move forward,” Mullen said. “And I am reminded that almost a decade ago now, we lost 17 sailors on the USS Cole and there was a requirement and effort to put our arms around those families and to help heal.”
The chairman promised to make it to Notre Dame sometime in the next year. In closing, he asked all to keep the families of Fort Hood in their thoughts and prayers.