“From PTSD to Prison: Why Veterans Become Criminals”

by | Jul 30, 2013

Sending an injured veteran to prison??  Quotes from this website…by

“Nearly one in 10 inmates have served in the military. Matthew Wolfe on how the system fails them—and the new prison dorms that could help them get back on track.”

“One Saturday morning in 2008, Boyd finished his shift and began to drink. In the evening, a friend drove him to a party. The last thing Boyd says he remembers is sitting in the front seat of the car outside the party, drinking liquor. When he woke up, he was in a police car, on his way to jail. The police officer told Boyd that he had shot his friend in the chest. The bullet made a clean exit, and the friend lived. Corporal Boyd was sentenced to five years in prison.”


There are lots of reasons to send criminals to prison.  But when we are aware of the physical and emotional damage warriors sustain and the challenges of readjustment to civilian life, should we even consider criminal intent?  I am not an expert on answering this question, but in my view it does present a moral responsibility on the part of the community to find ways to help veterans heal effectively in life after war.   The very last option should be prison under very clear criminal intent and circumstances…

Veterans Courts… are being adopted all over America to address the special circumstances of the morally injured or invisibly wounded combat veteran.  Veterans Treatment Court Legislation… was passed by congress to give veterans a second look and consider mental health in the equation.  The veterans court works much like the drug courts in the context of the need for long term treatment and healing.  I am very much in favor of this approach for veterans.  But it takes the local community to push for change.  This kind of effort needs champions in the state, county, and local legal system to make it happen.

It is really tough on families to care for warriors when they return home.  It is even tougher if the courts do not make adjustments in the case of crimes committed by veterans.  If my father had been sent to jail in the 50’s during the worst of our family challenges, we would have all ended up on welfare and/or in foster homes, or worse.  Dad was lucky to have avoided getting into trouble with the law while still in the US Navy during the “terrible 50’s.”  I have mixed emotions about all this because of my experience as a child in an abusive household.  It would have been far more painful as a family if we had to go through additional stress as a result of not having a father in the home and no income whatsoever…  The lessor of two evils comes to mind when thinking of the outcome…  As a family we were “collateral damage” from WWII and the Korean War…  

We should not wait for injured warriors to commit crimes following serving America with honor in war.  We must work harder as a community to support veterans at the beginning of transition back to civilian life rather than later when it might be too late…   

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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