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Suspect Soldiers
July 16, 2008 12:12 PM   Subscribe


 
"Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL." And I started jumpin up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and he started jumpin' up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL." And the sergeant came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said, "You're our boy."
posted by Meatbomb at 12:19 PM on July 16, 2008 [9 favorites]


But no admitted gay people!!!!

that would ruin the military.

right?
right?
posted by edgeways at 12:36 PM on July 16, 2008


Private First Class Steven D. Green, accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdering her family, entered the Army with a criminal record for minor offenses that included possession of drug paraphernalia.

In the years leading up to his enlistment in the Marine Corps and deployment to Iraq, John Corry Holmes built a record of alcohol and drug offenses. When he was 15, Midland police pulled him over for speeding and found a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey in his car. During the three years that followed, he was charged with another alcohol offense and two drug offenses.

Busted with "drug paraphenalia". Clearly a risk to become to child rapist and murderer.

There are 140,000 soldiers in the Iraq garrison and maybe another 100,000 that have cycled through? How many crimes occur in American population of 240,000 people? What if they are all from Texas? Are the crimes committed by these "suspect soldiers" in Iraq even remarkable by comparison.
posted by three blind mice at 12:37 PM on July 16, 2008


Rather than basically restate what I mentioned in the earlier thread about returning vets with PTSD--and why it will be worse this time around--I'll link to that comment here.
posted by availablelight at 12:39 PM on July 16, 2008


You know, from a certain point of view, Convict Armies are actually desirable. Sure, discipline might be a problem, but once that is out of the way you've got a bunch of guys with a propensity for violence and a knack for intimidation ready to do what they do best.

Just think of it as the Army recruiting "veterans" of the constant street wars being waged across this country, to be used in the constant street wars being waged in another country. Makes perfect sense to some people.
posted by Avenger at 12:39 PM on July 16, 2008


One of the most successful men I know owns a private marina in the bay area in California. He's old and fat and a good quiet friend to our family. My brother works for him when he's in the area, and he always insists on taking us out for drinks / dinner when I'm in town. I think he's probably a lonely man. I also think he's fabulously wealthy and hides it pretty well.

He told me a story once. It was in New Jersey, when he was a little younger than my brother - in his late teens. Typical crazed youth, he was running around hopped up on whatever and decided to "borrow" a car with a friend or two. So he winds up in front of a judge.

Judge gave him a choice - go to jail or go into the serve.

He returned from his second tour in Nam with multiple medals, including a Purple Heart - if my memory serves me correctly. Put together multiple companies / businesses that he's since sold off until settling down next to a yacht club bar for his old age.

Point is...this isn't news. And military service isn't the worst place troubled kids could end up. I'd wager they get a better chance at life there then they do in the pen.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:54 PM on July 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know, from a certain point of view, Convict Armies are actually desirable. Sure, discipline might be a problem, but once that is out of the way you've got a bunch of guys with a propensity for violence and a knack for intimidation ready to do what they do best.
posted by Avenger at 3:39 PM on July 16 [+] [!]

Yeah, the US Army has unwittingly experimented with that and, while it makes a great movie set up, in reality, not so much.
posted by availablelight at 12:56 PM on July 16, 2008


Kind of like the Dirty Dozen, except real and sadder.
posted by idb at 12:58 PM on July 16, 2008


When I was in medical school, I did my psychiatry rotation at Great Lakes Naval Base, which is main hub for recruits for the Navy. I can't begin to describe the array of psychopathology that we saw, primarily due to the fact that recruiters would tell potential recruits that they were eligible despite the fact that they had psychiatric diseases.

Invariably, what would happen would be that the recruiters would tell the kids to stop taking their medications because they would get them back once they got to basic training. The kids would then stop their medications, enter the high-stress environment of the military, decompensate, and end up in the psych ward. We'd also see kids who would admit (on day 7 of their recruitment, the so-called "MOT" or "Moment-of-Truth) that they had psychiatric diseases or had been on psychiatric meds prior to starting.

This was entirely heartbreaking to witness back in 2000. I can only imagine that it's worse today.
posted by scblackman at 1:01 PM on July 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


So if you're like me and I guess it punishes you with a login screen if you look at too many of the bios, theblue/theblue should work for a bit.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:49 PM on July 16, 2008


Like three blind mice (above) I wonder if anyone has access to really good statistical comparisons of the rate of psychological problems in the veteran population compared to a statistically similar control? I have absolutely no opinion about any of this, but I know that I've heard some people argue passionately that there is no evidence that service in Vietnam (or in WWII) can be shown statistically to have had any net effect on psychological or social well-being (e.g., crime rates, divorce rates, economic success etc. etc.) on veterans as a whole. If I recall correctly, in fact, veterans tended to do slightly better as a group than did their comparable non-serving co-generationists. I did a little Googling just now and came across mostly politicized screeching without much in the way of real research; anyone have a good link to some?
posted by yoink at 1:51 PM on July 16, 2008


Huh. I have a friend that served in the Navy (as recently as about a year ago) while taking psychiatric medication and it was dispensed by the Navy. I had no idea this was out of the ordinary or something that could bite you in the ass.

Was that sort of thing not good pre-actual need for people to enlist? Are there certain conditions that are okay but others that are not? From what I understood, his work mostly involved watching blips on a screen for a twelve hour shift - maybe they gave him the horribly boring job because of this reason?
posted by giraffe at 1:55 PM on July 16, 2008



Well, that's certainly not true for addiction and Viet Nam. 50% of service members tried opium and/or heroin while in Viet Nam and around 15% became addicted while there. Interestingly, however, when they returned, only something like 1-3% remained addicted, which is not much higher than the general population rate. However, in the general population, only about 1-3% of people ever report even trying heroin or opium-- you don't get 50% exposure and 15% with a short period of addiction in the general population.

Also, rates of PTSD are certainly elevated in military people above the population rate, as are rates of homelessness amongst Vietnam vets and i believe, alcoholism.

But, I too, found this series annoying with its conflation of drug crimes and violent crimes and lack of comparison to people who didn't serve.
posted by Maias at 2:01 PM on July 16, 2008


Was that sort of thing not good pre-actual need for people to enlist? Are there certain conditions that are okay but others that are not? From what I understood, his work mostly involved watching blips on a screen for a twelve hour shift - maybe they gave him the horribly boring job because of this reason?

Having some kind of psychiatric disorder is something that can be disqualifying when you're trying to enlist. The only difference is that now they are much more likely to issue medical waivers because they are that desperate for recruits.

It's also possible to give someone a waiver but preclude them from certain jobs, so that may have happened to him if he didn't choose it. More likely he was filling a slot due to the "needs of the Navy".

Of course, if he developed his condition after he'd already enlisted, that's another story.
posted by lullaby at 2:28 PM on July 16, 2008


Well, at least they're not gay.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 2:51 PM on July 16, 2008


Well, at least they're not gay in public.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:04 PM on July 16, 2008


On a semi-related note, I was watching something on CNN or one of the cables today that was touting the benefits of a program that help put ex-soldiers into teaching jobs in low-performing schools, meaning mostly minority schools, it appeared. Part of me said hooray--gives the vet a decent job, brings more men into the teaching profession, etc. The other part of me was a little concerned because the ex-vets seemed to be promoting the idea of military service and I had visions of poor kids, once again, being steered into military service or fodder, depending on your viewpoint. I don't know if that's a faulty impression of what the vets were saying. Does anyone else know about this program? Anyone else have any thoughts?
posted by etaoin at 3:28 PM on July 16, 2008


Troops to Teachers. Apparently it began in the mid-90s.

On the website: "Pending availability of funds, financial assistance may be provided to eligible individuals as stipends up to $5K to help pay for teacher certification costs or as bonuses of $10K to teach in schools serving a high percentage of students from low-income families. Participants who accept the Stipend or Bonus must agree to teach for three years in targeted schools in accordance with the authorizing legislation."

It looks like a good enough program to me. I wouldn't assume that all of the veterans who take advantage of TTT are necessarily that pleased with the military and would promote it to their students. Some of them would, some of them wouldn't - but looks worthwhile to me.
posted by lullaby at 4:16 PM on July 16, 2008


TTT wouldn't be very good propaganda if the recent vets that I know got into it. They'd tell kids about how fucked up Iraq was, how they got stop-lossed, and how then the government did its best to screw them out of higher-ed benefits.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:31 PM on July 16, 2008


Yeah, I was gonna say I think that Troops to Teachers is more a financial-aid thing than an insidious indoctrination thing. We certainly availed ourselves of the Spouses to Teachers free money program. And the people I know who are planning on going into teaching are the ones who are not re-enlisting because they hate being in the military.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 4:32 PM on July 16, 2008


50% of service members tried opium and/or heroin while in Viet Nam and around 15% became addicted while there.

I don't dispute your larger point, but that seems high to me. You have a source to cite?
posted by jonmc at 4:50 PM on July 16, 2008


seems high

in more than one way?
posted by matteo at 6:39 PM on July 16, 2008


Just think of it as the Army recruiting "veterans" of the constant street wars being waged across this country, to be used in the constant street wars being waged in another country. Makes perfect sense to some people.

So, you're saying poverty, institutionalized racism, and the drug war is a training exercise.
posted by regicide is good for you at 6:58 PM on July 16, 2008


A quasi-imperial power with a seemingly-unstoppable armed force made up of hardened criminals, sent to a dusty, but critically important backwater to secure and defend the most precious substance in the universe, without which long-distance travel would grind to a halt, being beaten by a group of indigenous insurrectionists...

We're living through Dune.
posted by eclectist at 7:01 PM on July 16, 2008 [8 favorites]


Yes, my source is Lee Robins, who, contrary to the correction in this article I wrote citing her in the Washington Post, is *both* a psychiatrist and a sociologist. Although I admit I did confuse the University of Washington with Washington University!

The exact statistics are in the piece: 50% tried heroin or opium, 10% used at least once after getting back to America, 1% stayed addicted after they returned to the U.S., even though some used a few times in America.

The abstract is here (it includes 50% trying, 20% becoming addicted there and 1% being addicted in the long run-- the 10% number in my piece is not the percent addicted in Viet Nam, but the percent who used again in the US and the 1% is the re-addicted).

She has several differentsubsamples so the numbers vary in some of the studies and it is very hard to keep them straight!
posted by Maias at 7:56 PM on July 16, 2008


Never let it be said that dope fiends, criminals and the insane aren't patriots too. The next time the US government insists on some new draconian measure to lock these people up for infinity+1, I hope they'll remember that drug addicts and criminals fought and died in defence of America's freedom, and as such, are at least deserving of being cut the kind of slack that evangelical Christians get when it comes to dividing up the political pork.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:12 AM on July 17, 2008


Tom Lehrer knew all about this back in '59:


When Pete was only in the seventh grade, he stabbed a cop.
He's real R.A. material and he was glad to swap
His switchblade and his old zip gun
For a bayonet and a new M-1.
It makes a fella proud to be a soldier!

posted by StandardObfuscatingProcedure at 2:59 AM on July 17, 2008


Trying heroin was not a difficult thing, in Viet Nam. Kool cigarettes were sold, with the powder laced in the tobacco. Anyone who smoked these, qualifies for having 'tried' an opiate drug. I was told they were pretty kool, too. Not at all like main-lining, however. For that matter, anyone who's tried some codeine qualifies as well.

As for using criminals to fight wars, look no further than the draft-dodger in charge of the White House. Duh.
posted by Goofyy at 7:27 AM on July 17, 2008






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