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Studies show high risk of domestic violence for vets with PTSD

In September, we wrote about a 32-year-old war veteran from Wisconsin who pleaded no contest to three counts of DUI homicide and one count of OWI causing injury. After the accident, a breathalyzer showed that he had a BAC of 0.158 percent, which is nearly twice the legal limit.

The case was especially tragic and difficult because the defendant was reportedly being treated for a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The man's friends told investigators that he often abused alcohol to cope with his symptoms.

PTSD is sadly common among returning veterans, and many turn to alcohol as a way of coping with symptoms. Unfortunately, untreated PTSD can lead to other dangerous and illegal activities, including drunk driving and even domestic violence.

In a recent study, a VA nurse practitioner revealed her findings that domestic violence is a large problem among returning vets of current US wars who have PTSD. According to the study, 60 percent of vets with PTSD who were also in a relationship reported "mild-to-moderate" domestic violence within the past six months (the study used the synonymous term "Intimate Partner Violence").

Some wives of these returning vets report feeling frightened both by the immediate situation and by the knowledge that their husband has killed before.

There is no easy or immediate solution for healing the mental and emotional traumas of war. During the difficult readjustment period, vets with PTSD may face criminal charges for actions related to their disorder. When this happens, it is important to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney who can make sure that struggling veterans understand their rights and receive a fair trial.

Source: Seattle Weekly, "Jared Hagemann's Tale Illustrates Big Problem Among Vets: Domestic Violence," Nina Shapiro, Nov. 11, 2011

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