Sunday, January 27, 2008

Support Our Troops: Acknowledge Combat Trauma

Not to wax political any more than necessary in this decidedly a-political forum, but I am sick of the one-sided way that mostly SUV owners, it seems, slap "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbon stickers (and the even less committal magnet) on their bumpers. It is clear to me that at least some these self-proclaimed "troop supporters" are merely using fear tactics (i.e., the fear of being labeled unpatriotic) to silence the war critics. Guess what? It didn't work. Only the 29% die-hard Bushees even claim to support the war in Iraq. And among those 29% there are undoubtedly many who don't actually think it was a good idea, but for political reasons, don't want to admit it publicly. So, why am I going on and on about this? Well, it relates to my blog in the sense that one genuine form of support for our troops (apart from what the Democrats call for in terms of better pay, better pensions, and better health care), is the recognition of Combat Trauma as a real factor bearing on what we call the mens rea associated with criminal acts (i.e., the extent to which the individual revealed an intent to do evil in the commission of a criminal act). Arnold Schwarzenegger just signed into law a bill which encourages treatment alternatives over incarceration for lesser crimes by Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans where Combat Trauma is a known factor. It is precisely because laws like this may lead to less incarceration of people who have shown the propensity to be violent abroad as well as at home that they amount to genuine acts of support for our troops. This is because we are very arguably assuming more risk that we will be attacked by someone who would otherwise be locked up. However, in the long term, as with crimes not perpetrated by combat veterans, we may find that treatment alternatives which earnestly endeavor to rehabilitate rather than commit revenge on those convicted of crime may actually make us safer. But that seems to be just a convenient irony. I will, therefore, give Schwarzenegger credit for, albeit momentarily, suspending his "get tough on crime" policy agenda, as sincere.

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