Study: veterans and violence

| June 27, 2012

PsychCentral reports on a study that tells us what we already know – it’s not PTS that makes veterans violent, but rather pressures that surround them when they exit the military.

“When you hear about veterans committing acts of violence, many people assume that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or combat exposure are to blame,” Elbogen said. “But our study shows that is not necessarily true.”

Factors that were associated with violence included alcohol misuse, criminal background, as well as veterans’ living, work, social, and financial circumstances.

Wealth was an issue as the survey found that veterans who didn’t have enough money to cover basic needs were more likely to report aggressive behavior than veterans with PTSD.

“Our study suggests the incidence of violence could be reduced by helping veterans develop and maintain protective factors in their lives back home,” Elbogen said.

Oh, so veterans are just like normal people? Really? Who knew?

So, because we’re like everyone else, maybe treating us like we’re all John Rambo, one traffic stop away from a murderous rampage is the wrong approach to dealing with veterans.

Treat us as if we’re just like you. And sometimes we’re our own worst enemy about that. One of my workmates was a supply clerk in Vietnam and he used to act like the crazy Vietnam veteran and made the whole office scared of him – breaking into Tourret’s-like cussing spells when things didn’t go his way. It led to the whole office treating us newly-hired veterans like we were all a bunch of lunatics and it created a tense working environment.

But civilians should judge veterans like they do anyone else they meet on the street instead of like we’re recently-caged animals.

Category: Veteran Health Care, Veterans Issues

Comments (22)

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  1. ScalpelShepherd says:

    This is a good article. Especially so, for those who are fond of war movies and bullshit and believe that all of us with PTSD are violent assholes.

    Over at Army Times, there’s an article talking about how some in San Diego gov’t are concerned about a PTSD clinic for OEF/OIF vets being opened across the street from a “charter school”. Maybe they should read this.

  2. Well said!

    civilians should judge veterans like they do anyone else they meet on the street instead of like we’re recently-caged animals.

    Ain’t gonna happen though! Sadly the die has been cast. So long as Disorder is in the nomenclature you lose.

  3. DaveO says:

    Agree with Zero. Damage is done.

  4. Beretverde says:

    My experiences are that it is a “duel edged sword.” You do well or just your job, you are an everybody. You fuck up, you are a crazed vet. Hollywood surely hasn’t helped. The young guys getting out now have a hell of a mountain to climb (educate?). The problem is that it is not their fault and they have to pay for the sins of the country’s mess-up(s). My hat is off to them.

  5. Joe Williams says:

    imo only are a lazy nation that form our opinion from TV newscasts and Hollyweird than research for our selves.

  6. Ex-PH2 says:

    Yeah, but the sheriff went after Rambo, who used his survival skills to evade and escape. Rambo was just passing through, looking for the family of a buddy of his.

    I never had any service-related difficulties at work. I always put my time in the Navy on my resume. Why wouldn’t I? It was work experience. On the other hand, I didn’t hammer it down anyone’s throat, and I ran into a lot of men who said none of them had any service-related issues at their jobs. Maybe it was because the “stigma” of being in the service during the Vietnam war finally wore off. I know that most of them said they didn’t want to sit around crying about the war. Most of my generation have led productive lives following the Vietnam war.

    But in all this, let’s not forget how fickle people can be.

  7. Anonymous says:

    #2 shares my opinion. Mainstream media does a real good job of making combat vets dealing with PTS (see what I did there) look like viscious animals. Lets face it some in our brotherhood also reflect extremely poorly on the rest. Also the stolen valorous fucktards and users aren’t painted as the fuckers they need to be. They are mostly doing some pretty nefarious crap and most the country just accepts them as us.

    #4 hit on this I think. We have a 2nd generation of combat vets dealing with the ill concieved notions built by the country during our last prolonged war. Not saying we do not have bad apples in oif/oef generation but I would say we didn’t start with a clean slate.

    #6 are you saying other generations don’t lead productive lives? Or just talking about the only generation you know? What’s up?

  8. Just Plain Jason says:

    I think sometimes the problems that arise are from the tolerance of bullshit. The average veteran does not have a whole lot of tolerance for it. At least I don’t, I am not saying that is a good thing though. From my personal experiences I haven’t dealt well with “assholes”. The last job that I was fired from, long story. I will bust my ass doing my job. It was a union shop and I was an hourly employee working with a flat rate mechanic as my trainer. We didn’t have any work for an hour so I got tired of doing nothing and picked up a broom and started sweeping the floor. He chewed my ass because that “wasn’t my job” of course I go into my SGT Jason mode and explain to him why it is my job and our relationship went downhill from there. I didn’t deal well with big fish in little ponds. I would bust my ass working, but if someone was an asshole to me I was a bigger asshole right back…no matter their position. This has been a common factor in my life now I am not a violent person, I am actually a really sweet an loving father and husband, but once someone would push me that is when I would shove back. I think it is the dispropornate use of force in return…someone didn’t hold the door for my wife, I wanted to grab that sob and ask WTF is the problem. Now I have been getting regular treatment for my anger and ptsd so things have been getting better. I am not a ticking time bomb waiting to go off I never really was before, at least not in the way the “meme” always predicted. My tolerance for bullshit and assholes has improved, but I do have bad days. I am not going to go on a rampage because the girl at the coffee shop screwed up my americano (which she never does) I never was. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who would go on a murdering rampage because of their ptsd, I have met a lot of guys who would lock themselves up in their house and never come out because of it. I have also met a lot of guys who would end their own lives because of it, I almost became one of those guys…luckily I didn’t.

  9. Hondo says:

    Excellent point, Just Plain Jason. IMO, you’re correct; it’s been my experience that the average vet does have less tolerance for BS than the norm. I certainly did when I got back.

    I think it’s because getting shot and/or knowing those who have at gives you a different perceptive on what’s important and what’s not. I’d guess the same is true about cops, for the same reason.

  10. Dave says:

    Taking a different tack – do the armed forces attract a slightly more violently-bent group in general? I rarely ran into peace-at-any costs folks when I was in, and suspect they were a pretty rare bird in other services. Has anyone ever tried ato djust for that? Not supporting the crazed psycho meme by any means, but do think culturally the services by their nature attract a more physically assertive group than the typical spectrum of civilians.

    By the way, EXPH2, in the original book the sherrif escorts Rambo out of town – and Rambo comes back. Irecommend reading it, it’s a hell of a book and ‘way better than the crappy movies.

  11. Brian says:

    Do you guys think it is un-wise for me to have my ribbon rack proudly displayed under my computer station at work with a small American flag beside it? I don’t want people to be paranoid of me, but I do like to remind myself that I am proud of my service and my country. Out of the Army now for 4 years next month and this is my first solid job that could go somewhere (going on 2 years).


  12. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Brian, if it worries you, buy one of those coffee cups from our sponsor in the ad from MyServicePride and use it at work (Did I just shamelessly plug our sponsor). But, I don’t think it’s unwise. It’s stuff you did, be proud.

  13. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    Brian, I think you have to consider your co-worker’s attitudes. About 1/2 my work group is the “Baby Boomer” generation and they don’t have problem with the Eagle, Globe & Anchor my daughter got me for Father’s Day. The youngsters are of this generation that respects our military service. It’s funny to have them ask me about service in the “olden days”.

  14. Brian says:

    Thanks for the advice John. Actually I had been surfing the Frankly Opinionated T-shirts add. A coffee cup would be a good idea but we aren’t allowed to bring coffee into the office here…it sucks but hey, it’s alot suckier in alot more other places in the world.

  15. Brian says:

    Just checked out the coffee cups and steins! Cool stuff, making a stein right now…

  16. madmac says:

    The media coverage is squarely to blame, namely the liberal media. They love to talk about the “plight” of the American serviceman/servicewoman when they return home as a way to tug at America’s heartstrings when it serves their agenda (Obamacare will cure our vets, crystal therapy will cure our vets, vets need hugs, blah blah blah…)yet, in the next breath, sensationalize stories about the rare vet that comes home and commits an act of violence. Those instances are rare, and I am willing to bet that if you compare combat vets vs. illegal aliens, for instance, the illegals commit many more crimes per capita. BUT… the “plight” of foreign intruders into our borders buys votes. Are some of our vets returning with traumatic experiences that may require counseling? Sure… But, if you follow the media’s logic, Jessica Lynch should be a serial killer by now. Last I heard she just graduated from college…

  17. DR_BRETT says:

    Half the VOTERS and BUREAUCRATS are maniac mass-murderers —
    and should be CAGED .
    (Just look at the facts — no more freedom.)

  18. DR_BRETT says:

    Oh, I forgot to say the above-referenced violence is sneaky, behind-the-back, and often Con-Man violence in the form of FRAUD and THEFT and INTIMIDATION .

  19. Ex-PH2 says:

    @7 Anonymous — No, I did not mean to imply that other generations have not led productive lives. My bad on not being clear. When the vets came back from Vietnam, they were despised for being there or just being part of the military even if they hadn’t been in country. They had the same difficulties that today’s vets had, so I’m not saying they didn’t deal with it differently. They didn’t attract an overexcited press when something went wrong. They faded into the background. So when I said my generation went on to lead productive lives, it was not because they were the only ones who did.

    Up until Vietnam, warfare was sanitized for public viewing. The Navy and Army films of Normandy’s beaches littered with corpses and the same things shot in the Pacific were heavily censored for newsreel releases. The firebombing of Dresden was not shown in theaters; the flights of B-29s were what people saw, per my mother. What we get now is still sanitized unless it’s a real-deal, uncensored production like G4 channel’s “Bomb Patrol Afghanistan”.

    How many times have you seen stories about someone going postal? And what about the California guy who stole a tank from a nearby Army post and went on a rampage? And what about those kids at Columbine high school? PTSD at work? No. Very doubtful.

    The bad press that current vets get when someone reacts to something in a violent way seems to be a hot topic. It makes better copy. Why is it always labeled PTSD? Isn’t it possible the person going bonkers is bipolar? Or has other issues?
    The press/media like to make a hot button topic of something like this because it sells copy.

    If I implied that other generations have not led productive lives, then I was not clear and I apologize for the misunderstanding.

  20. Di says:

    I would agree with you, had I not had a degrading and abusive two and a half year relationship with a OIF/OEF veteran who was diagnosed with TBI and PTSD. I kept hoping the abuse would end with counseling (both myself and my ex), medication, psychiatric related hospitalization. To my detriment, I was wrong. I will never, ever date a military man again or experience anything but panic when I see someone in military uniform. I am unwilling to risk anything but brief interactions/contact with enlisted service members or veterans.

  21. 2-17 AirCav says:

    TBI? Whatever your issues, I can’t grasp how someone who suffered a TBI and, presumably, a string of associative ailments, leads you to panic at the mere sight of a uniform or prompts you to minimixe contacts active military or Veterans. You don’t work in the Pentagon or for the vA do you?

  22. 2-17 AirCav says:

    minimixe? “…minimize contacts with active military or Veterans.”