Are Veterans Killers?

The Government is looking out for veterans…..

                         ….because after all, they just might kill you!

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano is the latest example of an ignorant prejudice that lives, respected, repeated, and honored, by our glorious American Press Corps.  And now the anti-military bigots are in the highest seats of government.

Her warning, sent out in April (2009) to every law enforcement agency in the nation,  stated that law enforcement personnel who are on the lookout for terrorists should be particularly wary of military veterans. 

Because, you know, they are unstable.

This ignited a firestorm in some quarters.   Under pressure, Napolitano apologized, sort of.  She  said she felt genuinely bad for law-abiding vets who may have felt unappreciated.  But she didn’t apologize for the thrust of comments, and indeed, went on in her “apology” to point out that, well you know, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was a soldier, you know.

Which goes to show you, lots of veterans are unstable, you know.

If you don’t believe veterans are unstable, click yourself some Netflix.  Hollywood, in its thoughtless reversion to stereotype, loves to feature the pitiable crazy vet, locked in a nightmare of violence.  And why should we bother to investigate the facts in cold and silent black and white, when we have the bloody intensity of the surround-sound screen to inform us?

Or we could rely upon the press.   Which, when a crime is committed by a veteran, never fails to make veteranhood the central, salient feature of the narrative. They don’t report whether the criminal is Protestant or Catholic,  a Buddhist or a Baptist, Republican or Democrat, or whether he’s a college graduate or a community-college dropout.  But a veteran?  Oh, baby, now there’s a story line!

And those stories, true stories, make it clear that vets are unstable.

Or are they?

It is a fact that  Timothy McVeigh was a soldier.  It’s also a fact that there are more than  25 million male veterans in the United States.  That’s a lot —one out of every 5 adult males.  If veterans had a tendency toward instability, they should account for for more than 1/5 of crimes committed. 

—-But they don’t.

In fact, the opposite is true.  There are no direct statistics regarding how many crimes are committed by veterans, but in 2000, the Justice Department commissioned a study of how many veterans are incarcerated in prisons, federal and state, across the US.  The results may surprise some, especially in Hyde Park, Harvard and Boulder.  The study, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/press/vpj.pr reported that adult male veterans had an incarceration rate less than half that of adult male non-veterans.*  When one throws in the further qualifier of “honorably discharged veterans”, the contrast increases, and a 2005 study suggests the gap may be widening yet further.

So, Dear Gentle Ladies,

The bottom line for you is this: If that man beside you is not an honorably discharged veteran, he is two and a half times more likely to be a dope-dealing, bank-robbing, child-abusing, murdering rapist. Not to mention a terrorist.

Let caution be your guide.

____

*The DOJ numbers:

931 incarcerated adult male veterans per 100,000 U.S. veteran residents, compared to 1,971 per 100,000 among adult male non-veterans.  The veteran incarceration rate is 47.5% of the non-veteran rate. 

Factor in the statistic that 16% of the veteran incarcerations are from the 7% of veterans with “less-than-honorable” discharges, and the veteran incarceration rate for those with honorable discharges falls to less than 40% of the non-veteran incarceration rate.

 

 

 

 

 

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