|Image by The U.S. Army via Flickr|
I am just now starting to sift through the sea of case law and journal articles on the considerations of PTSD and criminality, unfortunately I think that there will be an ever increasing need for individuals well versed in the pitfalls of combat trauma and difficulties in reintegration. I feel as you do that something needs to be done to address this issue head on, such as a Veterans Court much like the one just established in Minnesota. Additionally, we have only begun to see the tide of returning veterans with psychological troubles facing criminal charges.
Never before in the history of American warfare have we seen such high numbers of soldiers who have been under unimaginable stress. In WWII 18% (Flashback, 2006, p. 73, War Psychiatry, n.d., p. 15; Grossman, 2007) of our soldiers actually engaged in combat, with Vietnam it was 30-40%, today 68% to 86% have actually engaged in combat (Veterans for common Sense and Veterans United For Truth, Inc, 2007, item 54, National Center For PTSD Fact Sheet, n.d., paragraph 2, and Hoge, 2004). Not only have more soldiers engaged in combat, they have been in combat longer with an average of 2 to 3 tours of duty (Boston.com, 2005, Veterans for America, 2008). Many have been on 5 tours and some as much as 6. As high as 80-90% (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006, paragraph 5) have seen someone get killed, or been in a combat zone, we have reached "Combat Saturation."
Today 15% (300,000; Rand, 2008) of our soldiers and veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD and this seems like it may be a smaller number compared to other wars. 30% PTSD rates in Vietnam, 15% to 25% of combat soldiers "...nonfatal battle casualties...[were] neuropsychiatric" as reported in WWII by the Surgeon Generals report (as cited in War Chronicle, 1944) and 15-20% of Gulf War I vets reported to have PTSD.
It took Vietnam veterans up to 10-20 years before their symptoms reached the point of becoming debilitating. The implications for our modern veterans will have monumental deleterious effects in the next 10 years, it has been projected that PTSD rates in today's wars will reach 50-60%. We will be inundated with mentally ill veterans who have few options and no where to turn and they will run afoul with the law.