Dr Nidal Hassan has a Master's Degree in Disaster Psychiatry and yet he is alleged to have killed 14 people and wounded 32 at a military base in USA where he worked as army psychiatrist. Military trial is due to start on 12-10-2010 and it is thought that application will be made for death penalty. Last time this was done was 50 years ago i.e. a soldier got death penalty from USA army.
It is thought that defence would be that he suffered harassment prior to the shootings, was refused discharge from the army when he asked for it and that he suffered secondary Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (ptsd) from exposure to soldiers in his army psychiatric practice. He requested at one point that some of his patients be prosecuted for war crimes. He was a devout Muslim and the plan was to send him to Afghanistan!!!
During his psychiatric training he had to have extra counselling but was eventually passed by his supervisor.
There are various factors which are important in the development of secondary ptsd such as insufficient training, identification with victims, insufficient support in the workforce and insufficient social and familial support. It is thought by some that all four factors played their part in the case of Dr Hassan.
I cannot say for sure as I do not know the facts of the case sufficiently well.
However, there are other factors important in not being able to deal effectively when it comes to religious issues. Many people avoid such topics in fear of causing offence and I wonder what risk assessment if any was done in the case of Dr Hassan and others of whatever religion they may have had.
Another reason why there could be avoidance to do a proper risk assessment of religious employee is fear of conflict when it comes to religion. It is as if to say that anything can be said/expressed as long as it is called religion. Not so. There are laws limiting religious expression for example in European Convention of Human Rights.
USA has First Amendment in its Constitution. While there is right to express religion as an individual, US courts have interpreted that First Amendment limits what state employees can do. One can teach about religion as a teacher but not provide religious education in state schools or wear religious garb as a teacher in state school.
When it comes to limits and boundaries some people are confused and cannot work it out for themselves. In USA there are guide books on this topic (First Amendment) for teachers. I wonder what happened in USA army and if there will be a new guidance issued. I expect so after this disaster with Dr Hassan.
If American teacher can be dismissed for wearing religious garb why not a member of US army? Here is Dr Hassan wearing his religious dress (he was born in Virginia, where ironically First Amendment, I think , was written) but it is not clear form video if he did the same at his place of work when talking to his patients, soldiers. Uniforms present a barrier to communication with patients and none should have been worn when working with mentally ill. Religious dress is also a uniform, just the religious type. Doctors white coat is also a uniform and so on.