After a mass shooting at Fort Hood that left three dead, some have speculated that shooter Specialist Ivan Lopez was driven over the edge by post traumatic stress disorder following his deployment to Iraq.
“When troops come home, the madness of war comes with them,” wrote Natasha Lennard in Salon, while also making a factual error that Lopez had deployed twice to Iraq (He only had one 4-month tour, and saw no combat).
This generalization — that the millions of veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan are about to snap — plays to a stereotype of veterans being forever broken by war, when the truth is that the vast majority are not afflicted with PTSD.
But even more unfortunate is the perception that veterans are a group people should fear. Indeed, it has become common to mention military service or combat experience of a wrongdoer as if it’s some predictor of crime.
The wars overseas, Huffington Post’s Kathleen Miles and Jan Diehm wrote Tuesday, have brought back a “deadly aftermath of war right here at home” with troops committing violent crime after they return. While writing that “there is no research that supports a link between war trauma and violence back home,” the pair manage to link the more than 2.6 million veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan with 194 who were charged with killings upon their return.
This is a shameful misrepresentation, and it only serves as a stigma to prevent veterans with legitimate mental health issues from seeking the care they need.
“Post-traumatic stress is a manageable condition and a natural response to trauma,” writes Army veteran Alex Horton. “One that can affect a soldier in war as much as a grandmother in a car crash.”
Many veterans have taken issue with coverage in recent days that often just reinforces negative stereotypes. Following the publication of HuffPo’s “deadly aftermath” story Tuesday, social outcry has been widespread, as compiled by Popular Science’s Kelsey Atherton on Storify:
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