Violent Crimes and Military Deployment
By: Brooks A. Mick
Back in mid-April, 2009, the Department of Homeland Security under Janet Napolitano released a report stating that right-wing extremists posed a significant risk and that police and other agencies should focus on returning Iraq veterans. There was allusion to the 1990s, when there was a perception that right-wing extremist violence occurred at a high rate. Some people justified this denigration of Iraq veterans by pointing to studies showing that veterans who were diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had higher rates of domestic violence than the general population. It apparently didn’t dawn on those doing these studies that they were comparing people with an emotional or mental disorder to a group of people who had no known mental disorder. The study was clearly biased.
There have been studies that compared veterans of combat with age-matched civilian subjects and those studies indicated that combat veterans were LESS violent than equivalent civilians. Homeland Security had no real data upon which to base their insults toward returning Iraq War veterans. A study by Calvert and Hutchison in 1987 found that Vietnam Veterans had no increased tendency to violent crimes, and further data crunching suggested that various levels of combat had no effect on later violence specifically. ( link )
There was a cluster of violent crimes at Ft. Carson between 2005 and 2008. The commanding officer, MG Mark Graham, commissioned a study to determine if any specific causes of the violence could be determined.. ( http://ow.ly/hL7N ) This study found no single cause of the violent crimes, but it did note that many of those who committed crimes had prior criminal records or behavioral problems. This parallels my experience. I have proposed that people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder frequently have Pre-Traumatic Disorders. One interesting discovery of the study was that 65% of those committing the crimes had never been deployed to combat! In other words, there’s no evidence anywhere that military service or combat experience predisposes to the commission of crimes or violent behavior in general.
Some left-learning commentators such as Shepard Smith of Fox News, in a great stretch of logic, used the recent shooting at the Holocaust Museum by a WW2 veteran as evidence that Homeland Security was correct in focusing on violence in veterans. However, it is clear that this psychotic anti-Semitic old WW2 veteran was NOT an Iraq War veteran, and Homeland Security’s suggests were to focus on Iraq Veterans, not WW2 veterans. And it is certainly irrational to equate the actions of a single crazy man with danger from a large group of veterans newly-returned from Vietnam. It should be noted that Napolitano issued a half-hearted apology for any insult to Iraq veterans.
So when there is no real evidence that returning Iraq veterans are a risk, why would Homeland Security issue a report urging police, the FBI, and other agencies to focus their surveillance on Iraq veterans? Could it be that the Obama administration knows that veterans don’t have a very favorable view of administration actions such as the decision to close Guantanamo? Or is it just knee-jerk bias against those who have been in the military?