In a war that rivals all others we will bring home veterans who are scarred and distraught. The world is more familiar now with what Post Traumatic Stress can do to people. People leaving prison are often under the same personal fatigue. In the world of corrections and the aftermath of serving time we should be looking at treatments that focus on the individual and their trauma's. What led them to the place that created addictions or illegal behavior. Putting band-aids on symptoms will not cure anything it only covers up the true ills.
What about looking at people whose lives are combat trauma and whether they deserve special treatment at sentencing?
When it came time to sentence James Allen Gregg for his conviction on murder charges, the judge in South Dakota took a moment to reflect on the defendant as an Iraq combat veteran who suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
“This is a terrible case, as all here have observed,” said Judge Charles B. Kornmann of United States District Court. “Obviously not all the casualties coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan come home in body bags.”
Judge Kornmann noted that Mr. Gregg, a fresh-faced young man who grew up on a cattle ranch, led “an exemplary life until that day, that terrible morning.” With no criminal record or psychiatric history, Mr. Gregg had started unraveling in Iraq, growing disillusioned with the war and volunteering for dangerous missions in the hope of getting killed, he testified.
Nonetheless, the judge found that Mr. Gregg’s combat trauma had not rendered him incapable of comprehending his actions when he shot an acquaintance in the back, fled the scene, and then pointed the gun at himself as a SWAT team approached — the helmeted officers “low crawling,” Mr. Gregg testified, and looking “like my own soldiers turning on me.”
When combat veterans like Mr. Gregg stand accused of killings and other offenses on their return from Iraq and Afghanistan, prosecutors, judges and juries are increasingly prodded to assess the role of combat trauma in their crimes and whether they deserve special treatment because of it.