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DALLAS -- Three levels of concern arise after an incident such as the shooting at Fort Hood Wednesday; sympathy for the victims, empathy for Ft. Hood families already bruised by war, and finally, all the military families nationwide who are affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in their lives.

Elaina Hayes said she's one of them.

For the past two days, she's been glued to cable news in her motel room in a low budget motel off Interstate 30 in Dallas, worried about the victims, and worried about the shooter.

'The first thing I thought about was [Ivan Lopez's] mom,' Hayes said.

Ms. Hayes' son, Kelby, served two tours in Iraq. She watched him change with each deployment.

'He's not the same,' she said. 'He's not the same person. I'm not either. I'll never be the same, either.'


Click here to learn more about PTSD from the National Institute of Mental Health


As his Army career and war experience progressed, she saw him begin drinking heavily, sinking into a behavior pattern that she said eventually put him in jail. She's now sold all her possessions to move here from Alabama to be near him when he gets out.

'I knew he was drinking, but he was excelling in the military. I thought if something was wrong, the military would know,' Hayes said. 'I thought they'd evaluate them, but they don't evaluate them as long as they are performing their duties as a soldier.'

As she examined his military records after he went to jail and was dishonorably discharged, she said she found several occasions where he was diagnosed with PTSD, but never treated.

Although the military has raised awareness of PTSD, some soldiers still feel a stigma of being identified with what used to be called 'battle fatigue.'

'In fact, they don't encourage them to [voluntarily report PTSD,]' Ms. Hayes said. 'And most of them drown it in alcohol or drugs, or domestic violence, or suicide.'

Now, she and her dog, Jinx - which her son named - hang around the extended stay motel, waiting for her his discharge -- not from the Army, but from jail. And thinking about what she says needs to change.

'PTSD has got to be recognized, number one,' Hayes said, 'and the military protocol of the government has got to change.'

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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