War Crimes

2010, Society  -   40 Comments

Not long ago, one out of every five prisoners in America was a Vietnam vet. More and more veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are showing up behind bars and many are being charged with violent crime. Experts are saying that there's a common thread that often runs through these cases, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.

Increasingly, post traumatic stress is taking center stage across the country, in the jails and in the courthouses. It's believed that hundreds of thousands of recent vets are suffering from PTSD, but what's making some of them snap? And what is being done to combat what many see as an approaching storm?

In Phoenix, Arizona, there is the Maricopa County 4th Avenue jail. It's actually one of the most high-tech jails in America. There are about 10,000 prisoners in the Maricopa County System. Most are being held for small misdemeanors. The 70 men in one unit are charged with violent crimes like armed robbery, rape, and assault. A handful are accused of murder and Kaj is there to visit one of them.

Clark Fish is 24. He spends the majority of his days locked in a 6 by 14 cell. Clark passes the time by prepping for his defense, exercising, and decorating his body. Clark is there because he's been arrested and charged with the murder of his girlfriend. He maintains his innocence. In the two and a half years, while Clark has been there awaiting trial, he's developed the habit of meticulously organizing his cell.

As a veteran himself, Kaj could tell Clark had served in the military by the way he folded his socks. But there was something else he thought he recognized in Clark too, something less obvious. Clark is suffering from PTSD. He was diagnosed with the condition after a six-month deployment to Iraq.

Ratings: 7.61/10from 31 users.

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40 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Beth

    Also, to the non-Americans making judgments about the USA, how much financial and military support have you received from us? Don't be a hypocrite!

  2. Beth

    OK, I couldn't get through the first 2 minutes. As a 9/11 survivor, the war in Afghanistan and to take out the enemy that changed our way of life so drastically is completely justifiable! We we supposed to let it go? As a 9/11 survivor with PTSD and severe anxiety with agoraphobia, my heart breaks for our soldiers and vets that suffer from such a hideous disease every day. It is all-encompassing and suffocating.

    Life is hard and unfair. We did not attack first - our freedom was attacked and killed 3,000 souls. Unless you were there or were personally affected by 9/11, you cannot fathom the horror of that day!

    How quickly we forget. How quickly we skew things to fit our agenda, as this movie apparently does.

  3. Maya

    You know...God never turns a blind eye, this is what happens to you if you invade a country and kill it's innocent women and children. I have seen horrific images and videos of what US soldiers have done in Iraq, God is very forgiving..but some acts cannot be forgiven.

  4. Irene Knight

    What happens is in basic, the recruiters cross the line and have to be trained to "kill" tactics for combat. Once that line is crossed many have difficulty getting back across plus the PTSD they suffer, because they cannot reconcile or make sense of what they have seen or done in combat.

  5. Dee Moo

    Its perfectly fine to go out and get s*it faced in town on the weekend whilst in the army, but smoke a joint and your out.

    What a world we live in.

  6. Jason Mathias

    What if his girlfriend was cheating on him and accidentally got
    pregnant. Not knowing what to do she lies and says she was rapped? I
    mean think about it, wouldn't you know or notice if your girlfriend was
    rapped? I would. But maybe she wasn't and that's why he wasn't able to
    tell anything was wrong with her until she said she was rapped?

  7. Steve

    Some helpful comments here, imo.
    The intersection or Venn diagram which describes where
    influences on a criminal take away responsibility we still leave for courts, on advice from psychologists, to decide. PTSD is an occupational hazard of military life, as Dr Jones & Wessely state in From Shell Shock to PTSD, with intense combat the most powerful risk factor. Which is why we call these Combat Stress Reactions now rather than categorise them morally as LMF (Low Moral Fibre, Lack of Intestinal Fortitude etc).

    Now that the latest diagnostic techniques can measure the
    physical effects of PTSD on biochemistry and actual areas of the brain to do with emotional responses esp. flashbacks, there is hope for finer decisions about blameworthiness, degrees of blameworthiness or at least mitigating circumstances.

    What these Brit authors and most informed commentators now make clear is the real breakthrough has to take place at the officer level: under-reporting (patient non-presenting or officer non-reporting due to slight on competence, perceived effect on career)and undertreating will never happen unless commanders who have had treatment front up and redefine models of masculinity, strength, leadership, patriotism and esp culpability by saying - TV social ads? - ‘Yes, I had/have PTSD, I sought treatment, got it, and
    am now back in command (or not) the stronger person for it.'
    That to me is a real man, a strong army and national culture – and the way forward. Risk is always part of the deal. Let’s minimise unavoidable risk, recognise the relationship between brain-body in an unbreakable connection in armies that aren’t robots, and that (existential) choice accepts risks and expects this sort of ‘duty of care’.
    J&W also say that in the ‘PTSD wars’ the boundaries between normal and abnormal are always problematic, prescreening like debriefing has been shown not to be not the full answer either.
    The above is.
    And (for Brits) examining the unexamined ways in which a gun culture is part of the problem, paradoxically often creates more insecurity than it promises ...

  8. Eric Levine

    kicked out of army for something as innocent as pot, while alcohol (an actual cause of violence-unlike pot) is legal. US Priorities are backwards!

    1. yellowmattercustard

      At the same time if the Army says do not use pot or you will be kicked out then don't use pot.

    2. tom

      That is the point. If what you say is s*upid, and unfair, and not uniformly treated, than it should be ignored and changed. Thus, priorities ARE backward.

  9. chard01

    I wonder how Iraqi`s feel P.D.S.D or just pissed

    1. Space Nut

      These guys volunteered to go see and participate in the killing and violence. so lets be honest about that, No one forced them against their will, since there is no longer a draft. what did they expect in a war zone?!! So stop using it as an excuse because they can't control themselves! they know right from wrong! You do the crime... do the fu--ing time! PERIOD!!

    2. jackmax

      You seem to have an opinion about a subject you have no knowledge about. To serve your country is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences many of us can achieve. You're a coward and you should be grateful that these brave young men and women are willing to die for your freedom to condemn them.

    3. jaberwokky

      You ever hear the saying "an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind"? I'm not in any way pro war - far from it, I'm a pu55y vegetarian - and I think I know where you're coming from but you should step outside that for a minute and think where do these soldiers come from, how did they get where they are, why are they there in those god forsaken s4itholes chanting hoorah? It's not all the urge for faster faster kill kill and more often than not when it is ... well ...

      I watched a doc recently, possibly here, that highlighted the lack of opportunities open to some segments of the American populace and how the military were targeting these areas for recruitment drives and offering these kids promises of futures that would later be reneged on. Sure there's no shortage of the twisted psychos that will always be drawn to an opportunity which rubber stamps their demons running wild but it's not all that black and white. Just something to think about dude.

    4. jaberwokky

      Good point, you never hear anyone wonder about the Iraqis mental health. I'm putting forward a new term - PAISORISED - post American invaders stealing our resources incident stressful event disorder. You've been paisorised. Now all I need to do is complete a doctorate to give my acronym some credibility.


    5. jaberwokky

      PALOOMED - post-Americans liberated our oil mental efficacy disorder. That's my back up thesis.

      Edit: Still finishing the doctorate, should be done when I'm finished this glass of Carlsberg.

    6. jaberwokky

      Update: The educated people said take your banjo elsewhere. B*st*rds

      Sidenote: Carlsberg was s41t.

  10. bringmeredwine

    Surely its obvious, even to slobs like me, that once a brain has been wired to kill without hesitation, it would be extremely difficult to disable that reflex.
    Consider the concussions from IED devices blowing up all around and imagine the effects on a typical healthy brain.
    Add guilt, remorse, regrets, drugs, prescribed or not, and easily accessible guns, and you have a cocktail for dysfunction and misery.
    Yes yes yes, the military should be attending to its vets in the justice system whether they were discharged or not. And they should be covering the court costs and ensuring much needed treatments are actually available.
    PTSD is not necessarily the sole cause of this violent behaviour. Most of us in some way or another have been traumatised at some point in our lives. Many of us are the walking wounded.
    Clark was clearly in a toxic, violent, drug-addled relationship which was bound to end badly.(16 domestic dispute calls)
    Every vet's case should be examined uniquely in a Military court.
    I've got another idea, are these young men and women pre-screened by a psychologist before they are allowed to sign up and learn to kill?
    One last comment, when Jessie snapped and killed his girlfriend's rapist, could you blame him if you were in his situation?
    I thought.Jessie should have got off on a temporary insanity plea.

    1. 1concept1

      One large hit of philosophy can defragment 10,000, years of sociopath cultural implants. How powerful is that as a tool? (meaning and taking into account that somewhere in your life you read some philosophy that really hit home? that's what i am making ref. to). When I heard you speak at first you reminded me of Michael Savage, the talk show guy out of SF Calif. No insult he's okay he just comes at you swinging with all four arms and legs that's all :-) I do the same depending on my mood but I try not to. I learn a lot more if i am able to bring a person into conversation and ask questions. I'm learning to do that. And I need to remind myself like now from time to time. No where in the world ever before have we been able to talk, one mind to another without the distraction of body lang. no physical setting or costumes to deal with other then of course this computer and written type. Whats really good one must read and shut the kcuf up and listen and then think and then compose and all this in real time. Anyway just random thoughts......

    2. bringmeredwine

      I have never heard of Michael Savage; but I do love to read a lot about military history, societies and cultures; especially like learning from the people who were there.
      I always have so many questions but never meant to "come out swinging"! I'm always asking myself and others questions.
      My friends complain I hardly talk sometimes. Usually if I disagree with someone I just shut up unless asked my opinion.
      On here, I know I go on and on at times!!! No one around here to discuss stuff like this in person.
      As for philosophy, studied a little Sartre in college many moons ago. (hardly remember a thing except for a person can always "choose" what to do).

    3. 1concept1

      Good comment well written. In response to No one is pre- screened as a matter of fact because of no draft the armed forces i understand has really lowered the bar They have been waving felons and letting them in. Military personnel have had to make repeat tours in the war zones and i mean more then two. That's insane and abusive to put it mildly.

  11. 1concept1

    When I was in the Army there was a draft. This brought good people who would not normally join the armed forces? I Was regular Army i joined. When the draft ended the majority of people who joined were out of work, doing nothing but hanging out. This is the same person that is being discharged back in the streets only now he has new skills, along with anger possible? That's just a thought nothing carved in stone here, your input would be welcomed. In some ways if we are going to have a military and we are and do then it might be better to have a draft. People who are drafted and don't want to go and go anyway are good countrymen? I would like to change the name from Armed Forces to the Peace Core and bring the two entity's together as one.

    1. bringmeredwine

      Interesting thought.
      There's so many nuts running around amongst us now, that we could possibly through a draft; end up with even more crazies being inducted.
      Your wish to transform the Armed Forces into the Peace Corp was beautiful.

    2. 1concept1

      I know i was being silly about the peace corp and the draft.

    3. bringmeredwine

      I didn't find your comment silly.
      I thought you were serious.

    4. 1concept1

      After serving in Nam i am serious. It's just people think what a fool if he thinks etc and so on. Thank you for taking the time to respond to me!

  12. Fisnik Kelmendi

    it's not easy to kill someone .. and think everthing will be OK .. Shame on you .. You desurv worse...

    1. benny

      The personality archetype of those that join the military include those that are prone to violence and disregard the suffering of others. That is a necessary attribute to have the desire and ability to be in the military and go on tour and potentially harm other people. Upon returning from TOD. They are still the same person. They had violent tendencies prior to service and come back as the same violent person. PTSD is an irrelevant blanket condition used too often to cover the violent traits of these individuals.

    2. Malcolm Reynolds

      Sounds like the personality archetype of a serial killer, and some soldiers like to keep trophies from their kills as well, just a thought :/

  13. dmxi

    poor souls wasted over nothing....& all for freedom while our society is becoming less free!an ambivalent time we live in

  14. Glen

    All wars are funded by big banks we supply the fodder read war is a racket see how much money is made,

  15. hisxmark

    This problem, the criminalization of ex-soldiers, has been around all through recorded history.
    The wounds and scars of terror and brutality do not go away.
    They are part of being a soldier. Given enough stress, at the wrong time, and anyone will break, sometimes beyond repair.
    When the soldier is used up, or has served his purpose, the military-industrial complex has no further need of him, nor are they going to deal with him at their own expense.

  16. deliaruhe

    After all the studies and scholarship that was devoted to the problems of Vietnam vets -- even to the point where it eventually had an impact on the way military recruits were trained -- it's really bewildering that the US military and the justice system are still so poorly prepared to deal with vets of these two last American wars. It all goes down to the price of empire. The American state is obsessed with the pursuit of Full Spectrum Dominance, and the American nation has to pay the price. Yet there is only one constituency that can put a stop to it, and that's the one that's made to pay that price.


    I WARNED so many youg guys on the internet NOT TO go off to war.I told them that they will destroy their minds and body over propaganda and cheap oil.I told them that the Government will throw them away like garbage when they have PTSD.But they said I was anti american and they were fighting for freedom so everyone can be free.We were free before the CIA supposedly or apparently took out the towers according to a female CIA asset.

    1. FirstShirt

      @SOCIALISMROCKS; Your moniker speaks volumes about who you are.

    2. dean

      Please elaborate.


      I'm proud to be a Canadian...... because .....at least I know I'm free.I have Health Care and Canada Pension Plans for the wife and myself at 62.I wasn't filled with propaganda in school about war and John Wayne.You weren't fighting off Indians or Mexicans years ago you were STEALING there land.
      EVERYTHING i warned those young nieve soldiers about years ago soon came true.We weren't fighting Hitler like the 1940's so we could be free.We were making money from war and oil.

  18. Maj. William Martin

    It is truly sad to see such young boys lied to who through patriotism go off to wars that again are premised on 100% Lies. Only to have these same boys deserted by their own Government as was recently documented on "The Real News" YouTube. Where the Military does all it can to dump these soldiers stripping them of Medical and VA Benefit's.

    The other LIE?

    That these boys were fighting for their alleged freedom's who return home not to parades and confetti but to be labeled as domestic terrorist's.

    The US Military has spent over 3.2 Billion on the SSRIs to sedate the killers they now made and then left. Once on these SSRIs and now with a record or history of violence, they then once again are dumped by their Government and their rights are taken from them.

    Daily this Government is removing the rights to own or carry firearms as well as arrests for blog posts. This documentary fits well with another posted here called, The Fuck It point.

    Why people go ballistic when everything they had or cared for is lost.

    Big Pharma is poisoning the minds with multiple drugs that all contain the same additive (sodium lyral sulfate) used in Shampoo's, Floor Wax Strippers, Engine block degreaser, Toothpastes and other items that clearly state... "IF SWALLOWED CALL THE NEAREST POISON CONTROL CENTER,) The FDA has refused comment on the maximum daily intake of (sodium lyral sulfate) Whereas most medications today all contain sodium lyral sulfate.

    For Big Pharma who makes hundreds of Billions of dollars it is nothing to pay off a few cases of wrongful death when almost every shooting in these United States the Shooter was currently prescribed SSRIs or coming off them.

    Should this economy collapse, Imagine 27,000,000 American's with a 30 day supply going into withdraw off these medications????

    1. Deborah L. aka O. LaRosa

      I agree with many of your points. However, I have been taking SSRIs daily for 30 years to treat major depressive disorder and I haven't gone off my rocker. What happened was I went back to college at the age of 48, graduated near the top of my class, and was accepted to a top-tier law school. Wholesale prescription of SSRIs is not the answer. Treatments should be tailored for each individual. No single medication or treatment is right for everyone.