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February 16, 2008


Dale Hazelton

The piece discussed such things as battle fatigue/shell shock, separation from spouse, disorientation etc as probable causes of domestic violence, but I also wonder what percentage of the people who volunteer for the armed forces are predisposed to violence to begin with....

Gaylord Fields

@Dale Hazelton:

My understanding is that while the U.S. armed forces may have a small number of violently predisposed people joining, the vast majority enlist for the same reasons my brother did -- socioeconomic ones. For many Americans, the military is the only way out of the heavily debt-laden family farm or the jobless urban ghetto or the dying Rust Belt industrial factory town or the closed-down mine. When your choices are largely either a McWalmart job or becoming a meth cooker, the Army doesn't seem all that unattractive. It's a factor in why larger numbers of women join the military these days -- certainly not the need to kill-kill-kill.

Besides, as the article strongly implies, you don't have to be a bloodthirsty psychopath when you join the armed forces -- the military can train you to become one.


Folks, if I may be so bold as to plug an event -

Iraq Veterans Against the War is holding their New York Winter Soldier event next Thursday, February 21 at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street at Central Park West, New York. A, B, C, D trains to Columbus Circle or 1 train to 66th Street. This event is part of a campaign building toward a larger Winter Soldier event in Washington DC in March.
See link -


Let's keep it in perspective here, people. It's The New York Times. The old gray lady's been suffering from a little dementia lately.


The reason I found the article shocking was its' exposure of the second generation of horror that these poor veterans are perpetrating, with little preventive mental health care from the military. I don't believe that someone joins the armed services because they are violently pre-disposed. We now have a record number of reservists serving long and repeated tours, after signing on years ago with little chance of active duty in their future. I imagine anyone serving a long tour of active duty suffers irrevocable mental stress, and our military needs to enter the 21st century and provide a huge mental health net for these people on their return stateside.

Dale Hazelton

Gaylord and Trouble, I agree 100% with you, and I didn't intend for my comment to be taking as "everyone who enlists is a psychotic killer." My personal experience with family in the military concerns an older brother who liked to torture animals, beat up his siblings, break into peoples homes, take weapons to school and was arrested repeatedly. He joined the military the day after he graduated from high school, and I didn't see him again for 3 years. When he came home to visit on leave the only conversation he had with me was relating how he could snap my neck and there would be nothing I could do about it. I don't know if there is any type of psych evaluation done prior to being accepted AND discharged from the military, and if there isn't then perhaps there should be. And who knows if battle fatigue was the root cause of the violence cited in the Times, or if there were other underlying reasons. One thing I'm sure we can agree on is the fact that the military most likely has dropped the ball on supporting its members post-service, and taking care of their families if they don't survive it.

Holland Oats

Kim Pierce (dir. "Boys Don't Cry") has a new film called "Stop-Loss" coming out soon that should add to the discussion. No I'm not a press agent.

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