Combat trauma and criminal behavior
While psychological trauma has long been recognized as a consequence of combat within most societies, in many ways it has remained taboo as a painful and inconvenient reminder of the true cost of war, to be quietly swept under the rug of history. Many veterans struggle to cope with the horrors they witness as they come home to their families, jobs, and communities, both unable to understand and eager to move on. Many veterans silently suffer from invisible injuries. Left untreated, many will self-medicate with alcohol, drugs, and acting out in self-destructive and sometimes violent ways.
Today, both science and the law recognize that a veteran need not have experienced direct combat to be affected seriously by his military service. Military service is inherently stressful and dangerous. We at G&A understand PTSD, and how our justice system must be better prepared to serve today’s generation of combat veterans.
Understanding the Invisible Injures, including PTSD, TBI, and substance abuse
Fortunately, the traditional evaluation of veterans is changing for the better. Today’s medical paradigm for veterans is better able to recognize the complexity of post-combat and post-service problems. Many veterans who find themselves acting out suffer from a variety of conditions that are often closely interrelated. Those often include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and the closely related substance abuse that often comes with one or both medical conditions.
Defending the combat veteran
At G&A we’ve developed a comprehensive and effective strategy for defending combat veterans and others suffering from PTSD and related conditions. It is imperative that the lawyers defending the combat veteran start an immediate and systematic approach to defending their client.
First, Use the Law
Recent statutes and cases are strengthening defenses for combat veterans. For example, California Penal Code §1170.9 creates a legal mechanism unique to veteran defendants with service-related disorders. California has some of the most comprehensive laws recognizing the veteran defendant’s service-related disorders.
Immediately assemble the defense team
The defense team should include an expert investigator who helps to gather a detailed account of the veteran’s military and civilian history. The team must also include a PTSD-forensic psychologist expert who will conduct a comprehensive psychological exam and evaluation of the veteran to help the lawyer formulate his/her psychological defense. If necessary, the team should also include a traumatic brain injury medical expert, and possibly a substance abuse expert. Finally, and possibly most importantly, the team must include a military training and conditioning expert. Many times, the veteran’s military training and combat experience causes certain behaviors including reflexive responses that coincide with the veterans other issues.
If done correctly, a very successful defense can be mounted for the combat veteran and other persons suffering from PTSD and related conditions. Let our experience at G&A help you or your loved one.