Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ft. Hood & Texas Disabled Awareness Month

Some may have some difficulty putting the two subjects of this article together.

Those who served in the military or have supported them may make some connections between Fort Hood and Texas Disabled Persons Awareness and History Month. Fort Hood is one of the largest US military bases in the world. It's located in Texas, a rather large state in the Union.

Most military bases have some sort of magnetic pull on military veterans and retiree. They tend to gravitate towards them. Many times, the better VA hospitals are near military installations. In addition, retirees are afforded the benefit of Tricare health insurance. Health care through Tricare usually provides more available options with a little (not much) less red tape near military bases.

Among veterans and retirees are a growing population of disabled veterans. This should come as no surprise since the Global War On Terror began in 2001 and continues even now. Terrorists like weapons that generate large, visible, audible explosions. Those tend to hurt people. The injuries may lead to losses of limbs or even severe concussive head trauma called TBI.

One of the first conclusions many may draw about Fort Hood's role in Texas's Disability Month has something to do with disabled war vets. It does. Many of our wounded warriors spent time stationed at Fort Hood. Some of those who opted and fought to remain on active duty and serve are stationed there, even now. It makes sense that Fort Hood would have a role in the month's celebrations and commemorations.

The role it plays, however, dates back to before the fort was named. In fact, it dates back to after whom the fort is christened.

Major General John Bell Hood was an officer in both the United States and Confederate Armies. He graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1851. Three of his classmates also had military installations named after them. Sheridan had Ft. Sheridan, IL named for him. Fort James McPherson near Atlanta, GA was named after one of Hood's classmates. In Hawaii, the 25th Infantry Division's home is John. Schofield Barracks.

MG Hood was wounded by an arrow while he was a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army. He never regained full use of the hand nor arm. But he continued to lead as a cavalry officer despite the disability.

In 1861, Hood resigned from the US Army and declared himself a citizen of the Republic of Texas. After his immigration to Texas, the state joined the Confederacy. Hood was commissioned into the Confederate Army as a Captain. He would rise to the rank of 3-star (Lieutenant) General, however the last promotion was never to be confirmed by the Confederate Congress. Legally, he retired as a 2-star (Major) General.

During the Civil War, Hood was severely injured twice more. At Gettysburg, a bullet wound took away use of his left arm. He continued to serve, though. Then, at the Battle of Chickamauga, another injury cause the amputation of his right leg. He remained in service as an active cavalry officer through the rest of the war.

So respected and feared by the Union Army, General Sheridan dispatched special units to confront Hood in an effort to keep him from disrupting Sherman's "march to the sea". The Battle of Nashville was especially bloody. Hood is considered to have met defeat at that battle. But the mutual attrition was so great that Hood's men added a verse to "The Yellow Rose of Texas" in Hood's honor:

"You can talk about your Beauregard and sing of General Lee, but the Gallant Hood of Texas played Hell in Tennessee."

Though he had declared himself a Texan, Hood retired to New Orleans and was a successful businessman. he died of a fever in 1879. MG Hood is a credit to all military veterans that some seek to label as "disabled". Though he lost an arm and a leg, he kept fighting, and he kept leading, even past the war and into civilian life.

For more on Major General John Bell Hood, please read this article at the Texas State Historical Society's website. Background information on MG Hood taken from several military history sources, including, but not limited to: Thomas W. Cutrer, "HOOD, JOHN BELL," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed October 10, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

To help support wounded warriors as they fight to continue an active role in our communities, please consider donating to Disabled American VeteransThe Wounded Warrior Project and The Fisher House Foundation