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'PTSD is a dragon': Recent mass shooting triggers memories for survivor of 2009 Fort Hood attack

Posted at 7:51 PM, Jun 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-05 07:59:57-04

FORT HOOD, Texas — We all see reports of mass shootings popping up across our nation, but few know what it truly means to be in the line of fire. Julie Wilson knows that feeling all too well.

"You could hear the sirens screaming, you could hear the people screaming. Every time these mass shootings happen I relive it," said Wilson.

Nearly 13 years later, Wilson still can not bring herself to visit the memorial for the victims of the November 5, 2009 attack on Ft. Hood. It can be a bone-chilling feeling to know your own face could have been etched in stone.

Wilson said, "I just- it’s too much. I get heavy. I feel, when I try, if I try to go towards it, I’m going to collapse."

The trauma of that day lingers, but her memory of that day is sharp.

"I was coming back from lunch. I pulled in the parking lot and saw a soldier on the ground and soldiers around him and thought maybe he had an allergic reaction to a vaccine. I was going to tell my coworkers when I got inside. Before I had the chance to shut off my engine and put my hand on the handle to open the door gunfire rang out," Wilson said.

She sat in her car and ducked behind her steering wheel hoping she would be spared from the gunfire outside. The attack was carried out by Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist. Hasan injured more than 30 people and killed 13 people in ten minutes. He was shot several times during the shooting and is paralyzed below the waist. He was sentenced to death and is currently detained in Fort Leavenworth.

"I saw a couple of them get hit but I had no direct idea of where the gunfire was coming from," Wilson said. "It missed my truck, but there were bullets in the trash can on the side of my truck."

When Wilson returned to work from maternity leave, it was too much for her to be back where she experienced the worst hours of her life.

"Every day [that] I had to go into that building I relived that event. I would see things tossed, I would see people on the floor, I would see blood on the walls, on the floor. It was not the same place anymore," said Wilson. "PTSD is a dragon you’re angry all the time and you can’t stop it."

She's reliving the events of that day frequently these days with mass shootings popping up across the country. Recently, it was the Uvalde massacre that brought her to her knees once again.

"Every time these mass shootings happen, I relive it. Uvalde crumbled me. You know those were babies. Those were babies and even the teachers they were somebody’s baby," Wilson said. "I’m hurting with them, I feel their pain. I know what those babies are going to suffer. I know what those families are gonna suffer- my family goes through it with me every day."

Wilson said she has been trying to cope with diagnosed PTSD for years now. She said it had touched every aspect of her life. For those who have been in the line of fire, Wilson said, "The only thing I can really say is [to] do your best to hold on because it’s going to be hard, you’re going to hurt more than you ever hurt."