What should we do to help the number of our veterans serving time in state and federal prisons for serious crimes? The numbers decreased from a high of 203,000 in 2004 to 181,500 in 2014. The Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report says that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness. For many US veterans with PTSD, the transition back into civilian life is a rough road towards recovery. For some of these veterans, they are turning to drugs and alcohol where they see that as the only alternative to alleviate their ongoing internal battle with PTSD. The BJS study shows that the stressors from war experiences from combat duty have created health and mental problems. To name just a few of those problems; anger, major depression (37%), theater veteran’s health problems where more than half reported a history of arthritis, one-third reported a history of heart disease and nervous system diseases, and many reported deafness (hearing loss). A Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) report says that those with current warzone PTSD were more likely to report a history of chronic health conditions (agent orange for the Vietnam veterans). The VA report says that 2/3 of veterans from the Vietnam War, with warzone-related PTSD, had behavioral or substance abuse problems.
I believe that if nothing is done to remedy the continuing problem in their recovery, the furtherance of these veterans mental health decline will lead to anger, health problems, and criminal acts, the destruction of their family, going to jail, the cost to society, and possible suicide. Additionally, for non-violent crimes incarceration does more harm than good! In recent years nationwide, there has been a startup of veterans’ programs that have been developed to help with the veteran’s recovery; veterans treatment court, veterans justice outreach, and veterans court system. All are used to avoid the unnecessary incarceration of veterans diagnosed with PTSD from warzone trauma. The Vietnam veteran for many years received NO therapy for PTSD! The church was ill-prepared at the time, but now I believe that the church can do better in equipping the saints of God for the work of the ministry in Christ. We have all read the Bible verses of scriptures from Matthews 25:37-40, that says; “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did see you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick and in prison and go to visit you?'”The King will reply, ‘I tell the truth, whatever you did for one of these least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ With the US continued involvement in the Afghanistan War, we are going to have our service men and women returning home with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. These veterans need our support and help in their recovery!
1. National Center For PTSD. Veterans with PTSD in the Justice System (2008).
2. VeteransStatistics: PTSD, Depression, TBI, Suicide (2015).
3. VA-PTSD and the Vietnam Veteran: A Lasting Issue 40 Years Later (2015).
4. British Journal of Psychiatry-Documented Combat Exposure of US Veterans
Seeking Treatment for Combat-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
(September 30, 2004).
5. New Federal Study Shows Half of Incarcerated Veterans Have Mental Disorder
(December 28, 2016).