Army Shrinks—Minus 5— Deployed to Afghanistan
Psych specialists lost five in shooting by fellow psychiatrist
By Jen Paton,  Newser User
Posted Dec 5, 2009 6:45 AM CST
A U.S. soldier walks while patrolling in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday, Dec.2, 2009.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
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(Newser) – The unit of psychiatric specialists who were among those fired on by rogue psychiatrist Nadal Malik Hasan Nov. 5th, seeing five comrades killed and 17 wounded, left for Afghanistan yesterday, right on schedule, reports the Washington Post. "This promises to be the most challenging year of our lives, though we have already faced our first battleground,” said a colonel in the detachment, which lost its major, staff sergeant, and sergeant.

The mental-health specialists, who range from veterans of multiple tours to recent college grads with degrees in psychology, offer soldiers counseling and treatment on the frontlines, sometimes helicoptering to remote areas to do so. The decision was made the day of the shooting not to delay deployment. After the shooting, they had to pass their own psychiatric screening and requalify for combat readiness. The soldiers are wearing black bracelets engraved with the names of their slain comrades.