Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The SSGT Bales PTSD Defense: Let's Throw All Iraq and Afghanistan Vets Under the Bus

It is true that many veterans of recent wars suffer from some part of a cluster of symptoms that fall with the category of "post traumatic stress disorder." But, it is irritating to see that a defense lawyer seems to be trying to exculpate his client by insinuating that his client is just another PTSD "victim" of wartime service, as set out in Sgt. Robert Bales: Defense team begins building case on PTSD reported at CSMonitor.com.

Exceptionally few PTSD sufferers grab guns and go off on killing sprees, unlike, say non-combat veteran postal workers (the phrase is not "going crazed combat veteran" but it is "going postal"), or failed Marines who never saw combat (Lee Harvey Oswald), a couple of teen age high school sociopaths (Columbine), a South Korean lunatic student (Virginia Tech), another failed Marine who also never saw combat (Charles Whitman, Texas Tower 1966) or a non-combat veteran reportedly killing for religious reasons (Major Hasan, Fort Hood, 2009).

Here's the irritating comment from the Bales defense attorney:
The defense is expected to argue that the Army sergeant was not in a healthy mental state, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after four tours of duty and two injuries. "Everybody who has had three or four deployments to the Middle East is going to have some form of PTSD," Browne said.
Really? Really? Even the VA estimates that only 10 to 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan vets may, in fact, suffer from PTSD.

It should be clear that until now not one of this 10 to 20% group has suddenly has arisen in the night to go off on a shooting and burning spree. Now, allegedly, there is one. One of what? 100,000? 150,000? .001% or less?

Let me repeat that point - a huge majority of veterans suffering with PTSD, let's say 99.999%, do not run amok ever.

To suggest, that is the PTSD that causes such a killing spree as SSGT Bale is accused of is to tar all the other PTSD sufferers as potential maniacs. This is patently unfair.

If SSGT Bale's defense is that he lacked the mens rea to commit murder, then the defense must be made only as to SSGT Bale. There is no need to call into question the mental state of thousands of honorable men and women who have served and continue to serve their country well.  Counsel for defense should confine his remarks solely to his client.

We've seen this sort of dangerous broad brushing of veterans before - after Vietnam.

Some good thoughts at Does PTSD Make You Dangerous?


  1. Just great, why do I feel a rush of "crazed veteran" movies coming out of Hollywood?

  2. Because you are experienced in the ways of Hollywood?

  3. Fortunately, he'll be tried by a jury of his peers, and we know better.

    His hot shot attorney might want to consider the audience a little more before he runs with this defense....

  4. Anonymous9:07 AM

    I have severe PTSD, and it comes down to the fact that you control your anger towards people and ignorance, along with stupidity. That's what makes Veterans, Soldiers. Proud and caring for fellow GI's regardless of which war they were in, weather they saw combat or not.

  5. I'd like to hear EVERYTHING concerning this case before I make any judgement. I cannot believe a soldier with a good record, that much combat time, from a good family with a loving wife and children waiting at home could do what he is charged with WITHOUT something terrible being wrong with him; his being temporarily or chronically mentally impaired.

    It just don't add up to throw it all away. Until we are given all the information we can't know and the lack of forthright reporting from the military makes me believe there's a story here that's being manufactured or remodeled for ease of use!