Friday, 30 October 2009

Criminal responsibility and PTSD

A groundbreaking verdict for US Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was decided in Canyon City, Oregon on October 19 when former soldier Jesse Bratcher, on trial for murder, was found guilty by reason of insanity. It was the first trial in the U.S. where a Veteran's PTSD was successfully considered to mitigate the circumstances of a crime.

Bratcher was a model citizen before joining the Army, with no criminal or juvenile history. He strictly adhered to the rules of engagement in Iraq, twice refusing to fire on civilians. There, he witnessed the death of a friend from an IED explosion, which commanders reported drastically changed Bratcher's mental state.

The US National Veterans Foundation President Shad Meshad said "This is a significant decision, for Jesse and for Vets around the country, who were law abiding citizens before they went to war and who have been accused of crimes since returning home. The military and the VA have not done enough to diagnose soldiers and Veterans with PTSD and provide them with needed counseling and support to ease their readjustment to civilian life."

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