There’s an interesting debate going on in the comments section of the article I wrote Tuesday on Vet Courts, and I’m going to butt in.
Vet Courts were developed to provide rehabilitation instead of retribution for vets who have run afoul of the law, in many cases due to drug and or alcohol abuse.
Some of the commenters have no sympathy – as one put it, “They must do the time if they do the crime.”
An Iraq combat medic who ended up with a DUI and an assault charge said, “I am a Combat Veteran that struggles with PTSD and Substance Abuse EVERY DAY [emphasis included]…. If I didn’t have PTSD, I wouldn’t have started self-medicating by drinking myself into oblivion and get a DUI, and I wouldn’t have had the anger issues that led to my assault charge.”
This vet said a judge gave him only probation while getting treatment, and he has turned his life around, something probably that would not have happened if he had ended up in the slammer.
After Vietnam, I discovered the Budweiser Cure as the ideal way to handle combat stress in the short term – which in the long term created a whole new set of problems. I never ended up in the justice system, due to the grace of God, and found help from some peers at the Pentagon I still hang out with.
Vets should not get a pass just because they served in combat, but if society can offer help instead of retribution, why not encourage it?