Academic journal article Military Review

Veterans on Trial: The Coming Court Battles over PTSD

Academic journal article Military Review

Veterans on Trial: The Coming Court Battles over PTSD

Article excerpt

VETERANS ON TRIAL

The Coming Court Battles Over PTSD

Barry R. Schaller, Potomac Books,

Washington, DC, 2012, 288 pages, $29.95

BARRY R. SCHALLER'S Veterans on Trial uses court cases from the Vietnam War to predict the legal costs of America's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The book's focus of the legal aspects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is useful for officers to properly administer the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but the book's greatest contribution is its estimates relating to the total cost of war on our society. Schaller cites Army studies that show how more soldiers have taken their own lives than have died in combat in Afghanistan. How different would these numbers be if high-risk behaviors linked to PTSD, such as drunk driving deaths were also included?

Schaller's figures are much higher than one might expect with estimates of between 400,000 to 700,000 total cases of PTSD and 400,000 to 500,000 potential legal cases--if today's veterans commit crimes at equal rates with Vietnam veterans. This increase of criminal behavior is impressive because members of the military are selectively screened for criminal tendencies.

Although a judge and legal scholar, Schaller has impressive psychological and historical insights. …

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