Iraq Vets Commit PTSD-Fueled Murders in the Wake of Returning Home
January 15, 2008
This story about Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who've come back from the war only to commit acts of violence at home is a must-read. The NY Times found 121 cases of murders committed by veterans back from these wars, 1/3 of which were domestic murders, and the reporters suspect this is only a percentage of the actual murders committed, because they got that number by scouring newspapers around the country, not from statistics cultivated by the Pentagon, which, surprise surprise, doesn't collect such data. The numbers are not insignificant.
The Times used the same methods to research homicides involving all active-duty military personnel and new veterans for the six years before and after the present wartime period began with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
This showed an 89 percent increase during the present wartime period, to 349 cases from 184, about three-quarters of which involved Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. The increase occurred even though there have been fewer troops stationed in the United States in the last six years and the American homicide rate has been, on average, lower.Unlike the majority of civilians who commit murder, the majority of the 121 veterans documented by the Times reporters had no criminal history. The anecdotal evidence points to a trend of PTSD-fueled overreactions that led to the murders. The opening story of the piece is about a man who shot some guys who confronted him on the street in Las Vegas for violating some gang turf boundaries that the veteran appears not to have cared much about. He shot them with an AK-47, and generally seemed to be confusing the incident with events that he witnessed in Iraq.