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Opening Arguments

The psycho vets return

As a veteran, I spent about 20 years flinching every time I saw a headline saying something like "Vietnam vet in homicidal rampage." The war was wrong, the narrative went, so, naturally, the men we sent there came back damaged and primed to go off like time bombs, punishing the country forever. There were never headlines saying "Insurance salesman kills family" or "Librarian murders seven."

I thought we were beyond such, well, profiling, but here it is again, courtey of The New York *!@*!@$% Times, under the headline "Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles":

The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment — along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems — appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction.

Three-quarters of these veterans were still in the military at the time of the killing. More than half the killings involved guns, and the rest were stabbings, beatings, strangulations and bathtub drownings. Twenty-five offenders faced murder, manslaughter or homicide charges for fatal car crashes resulting from drunken, reckless or suicidal driving.

About a third of the victims were spouses, girlfriends, children or other relatives, among them 2-year-old Krisiauna Calaira Lewis, whose 20-year-old father slammed her against a wall when he was recuperating in Texas from a bombing near Falluja that blew off his foot and shook up his brain.

This is a very long story, and I read through it carefully, trying to find some shred of justification -- for example, a comparison of killings by veterans and the ones committed by the population at large. Nope. This was just advancing-the-narrative nonsense.