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Headline: Times Finds Veterans Linked to Postcombat Killing

The New York Times reported on research this weekend showing links between at least 121 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and violent crimes. Using reports from local newspapers, court records, and interviews, the Times uncovered case after case where military personnel returned from war showing symptoms of combat trauma and were later charged with murder.

An inquiry into homicides involving all active-duty military, as well as new veterans, in the six years surrounding the present wartime period showed an 89 percent increase in incidents to 349 instances, up from 184. About 75 percent of these cases involved Iraq- and Afghanistan-war veterans.

Brockton D. Hunter, a criminal-defense lawyer in Minneapolis, was quoted in the piece as saying,

To truly support our troops, we need to apply our lessons from history and newfound knowledge about PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) to help the most troubled of our returning veterans. To deny the frequent connection between combat trauma and subsequent criminal behavior is to deny one of the direct societal costs of war and to discard another generation of troubled heroes.

The Times piece is part of a special series entitled, War Torn.

Join The Conversation
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
This has been going on as long as the US has been send soldiers off to war. From WWI to Viet Nam to present day our poor soldiers are trained and conditioned to be in alerted state that their lives are in immediate danger. Their "fight or flight" response is turned on, paranoia raised and heightened and when the fighting is done all of that is left on because it costs too much to deprogram large groups of soldiers back to civilian life. The CIA & FBI deprogram their field agent after missions exactly for this reason, they need to undo whatever damage has been done to their psyche and download intel. But our military is so large it cannot find an efficient way to do this. During WWI the US government discovered that returning soldiers were committing violent crimes at an astounding rate and considering all sort of extreme measures to expel all former soldiers from the country. "Shellshock" was the soldiers fault back then. By WWII, the government was learning that it was the conditioning of soldiers and the conflict itself that was having this negative effect on re-socializing these men and women to normal society. Thus they tried increasing leave and providing recreational activities even hookers. It did not change the PTSD the soldiers developed. But yet the government still did nothing for truly conquer this problem. I hate to say it but the VA Hospitals here in the states can barely handle the injured and ill, so treating psychological trauma is just out of the question for their overwhelmed staff. The DOD should just pony up the money freely for military personal regardless of rank or years of service to go to any facility to receive psychological counseling. They know it will help but they'd rather re-do their offices in Washington over and over again then help the real fighting men and women.
geohiker geohiker 9 years
well, duh! It is so wrong to train people to kill others, send them to an incredibly dangerous situation where their life - and the lives of everyone around them - are in danger all the time, then send them back and back again. Nearly 40 years after coming home from a year of combat in Viet Nam my father still suffers from PTSD. These poor kids who signed up for the military, especially those who joined the National Guard for a weekend a month and two weeks a year, certainly could not have imagined they would be sent back and forth to Iraq and Afghanistan for years. (Certainly, living near military bases and hearing reports of the dead every day, brings this into focus. After hearing about yet another 21 year old kid, killed on his THIRD tour in Iraq, I just could not take it anymore.) This is one of the terrible costs any government should take into consideration before sending people off to war, but since our President and VP so strenuously avoided service themselves (the national guard was a different thing back then), they sure do not seem to know about these kinds of costs that will be borne by vets and their families for decades to come. (And, my fury is not just for the Executive branch; Congress has had plenty of chances to step in and help but has done nothing. Fear of looking weak apparently trumps the ability to do the right thing.)
foxie foxie 9 years
The military should do something to get rid of the negative stigma surrounding therapy. There's always this unspoken suspicion that if you're found to have severe depression, or in this case maybe anger problems and violence issues, you may be discharged.
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
They need to get these guys counseling - all of them - when they come home from Iraq. They can't just drop them on American shores and say "Thanks for serving, bye-bye now!" and expect them to be perfectly normal, functioning members of society after living in a constantly wired-up state of mind for months on end... these men (and women) have been taken advantage of by a government that simply doesn't care!
sashak sashak 9 years
:jawdrop: That is a HUGE jump!
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