Soldiers In Harm’s Way

March 21st, 2009  
Team Infidel

Topic: Soldiers In Harm’s Way

The Economist
March 21, 2009

SIR – You recognise that post-traumatic stress disorder is a legitimate war injury, deserving of a Purple Heart (“Take heart”, February 28th). But although it is true that suicide has “reached alarming levels among soldiers returning from duty”, the same cannot be said for murder.
Statistics for 2003-05 from the Justice Department show that homicides committed by those aged 18-34 in the United States were 117 per 100,000. A very conservative estimate is that, over the same period, some 300,000 veterans returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. For them to be more dangerous than their peers those 300,000 veterans would have had to commit more than 352 murders. But the reality is that over a six-year period returning veterans committed or were charged with 121 killings, according to a special investigative series in the New York Times last year. We are clearly safer in the presence of our young returning troops than their peers.
We have a lot of work to do to create a more peaceful world, but fearing our soldiers is hardly helpful. The sad fact is our vets are more dangerous to themselves than they are to others. A Purple Heart might be just the thing to help alleviate their suffering.
Francois Melese, Professor of economics, Defence Resources Management Institute, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California
Editor's Note: The article referred to appeared in the Current News Early Bird, Feb. 27, 2009.

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