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Does Military Service Cause Men to Become Criminals?

Or do temperamentally violent men seek combat?

Theodore Dalrymple


March 23, 2013 - 7:00 am
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The Duke of Wellington, surveying his soldiers before the Battle of Waterloo, famously said that he did not know what they did to the enemy, but by God they frightened him.

No one thought in those days of the psychological effect upon the soldiers of witnessing so much violence (more than 30,000 were killed during the battle, about one in six of those who took part in it); nor could anyone have done so if he had thought of it. But it is now accepted wisdom that active military service leads men subsequently to commit crimes of violence, though the reasons for this are unknown.

A recent paper in The Lancet examined the association of military service and subsequent crimes of violence, which turned out to be much weaker than suspected. The authors examined the criminal records of 8,280 British soldiers who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan with that of 4,080 of those who had not. When controlled for such factors as age, level of education, pre-service record of violent offenses, rank, and length of service, there was no significant difference in the criminal records of those who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and those who had not.

When, however, those who were deployed in a combat role were compared with those who had not been so deployed, it was found that the former had higher levels of violent offending as measured by their criminal records. Interestingly, however, those who were involved in actual fighting had considerably higher prior levels of violent offending than those not so involved, suggesting that more aggressive types either volunteered or were selected for combat service. Somewhat alarmingly, nearly half of soldiers involved in the fighting had criminal records for violence.

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Fwiw, having run a major Veteran's homeless shelter (New England Center for Homeless Veterans), I never saw that my Clients had any more issues than any other homeless population.

The categories that Intaked past my front desk were about 30% formerly incarcerated, 40% drug or alcohol issues (overlap between these two categories), and 30% just average people who went homeless via lost jobs, illness, medical bills, divorce, etc.

Those who were combat veterans seemed to be less likely to commit crimes, not more. For all that us Veterans are somewhat more of risk takers and adrenaline junkies than the average person.

Mind you, this isn't a formal; study, just my own casual observations over a six year period of time, although I worked with thousands of Veterans during that time.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When I went to Ft Devin, Mass for AIT in the mid-1980s (ARNG), I had an interesting conversation with the Sergeant Major who ran the school, and who had been in the infantry in Viet Nam.

What he said was enlightening. In Viet Nam, soldiers were presented with choices, some times the choices were presented with very compelling reasons to take the less savory options. In combat, there are always such choices.

He said that a lot of the guys who came back to the world after theiir tour on Viet Nam, who had trouble adjusting or who became debilitated by what they remembered of their experience, had done things there that they could have, should have not done. That covers a lot of ground, doesn't it? The guys who came back without all that baggage, who weren't waking up a night screaming from their nightmares of remembrance, didn't choose to act in a way that made them question their own humanity.

The left always wants to find a way to subvert us and the proud history bequeathed to us by the valor of American Arms in the last century. This crap has been coming from them in the US since Viet Nam, urged on by the Soviets, their infiltrated agents and local useful tools.

These issues were never on the table for these people when discussing the Soviet Army in Afghanistan in 1980. Only America has to answer, I suppose.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ah, yes. The Lancet. Isn't that the same left rag that declared we had killed 600,000 Iraqis by 2007? That Lancet?

Another case where lefty, subversive politics trumps medical scientific inquiry.

When they run a study on the propensity of Soviet military and police forces to murder and enslave their own countrymen, because they had orders from Uncle Joe don't you know, and if even Lancet would share their raw data, I still would consign them to the same intellectual pile as all the other British puilp publications.

You want to know who, in the US, is more likely than not to be or become a criminal? Try the kind of person who wants to be a cop. License to kill and no accountability, except for ammunition. Say, that sounds like another country I remember..
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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Wellington: "As Lord Chesterfield said of the generals of his day, I only hope that the enemy, when he reads the lists of their names, trembles as I do."

Sounds rather like our current lot. The kind that can serve under this president and his Democrat predecessor, William Jefferson Clinton, the First Black American President.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Orwell said it better than any that came before him or has written since.

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

Rough men, not the self gelded metrosexual creatures that envy them their valor and who hide in plain sight from all risk, all danger, all loyalty to any idea greater than themsleves.

The meme suggested by the premise of this article is old. Ancient even. It is always embraced by the cowards among us, hoping after hope that their projected fear will be mistaken for truth. That their personal shortcomings can be hidden by loudly protesting the violent nature of the very men who keep evil from their door step.

Americans, real ones mind you, have a tradition, noted by George Patton and best exemplified by LGOPs. Little groups of paratroopers, moving towards the sound of the guns, killing everyone not dressed like them on the way. From Bunker Hill to Khe Sanh, from New Orleans to Point du Hoc, American soldiers have displayed a ferocity in battle that no other nation on the face of the earth can match. No matter what the hand wringers say, that is a good thing.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They are all potential domestic terrorists. Just ask janet Napolitano, she'll tell you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If the Brits law system was not running a " Catch and release" program they might not be collecting the fines they need for liberals to Feed the "witch hunt" Program that funded this Garbage !
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
An interesting theory…. As a former US Marine, we were inclined to believe the British Army was made up of only Generals and Marching Bands, neither of which we considered particularly “violent”….

Add also the actual rarity of any, real sustained "violence" experienced among the “combat” veterans of the last 40 years in Western Armies, and I call bullsh*t on the entire article.

Violence? In todays Western Military? No, no, no….Guadalcanal was violent….Hue City was Violent…Fallujah was the only thing that remotely qualifies as “violent”…the rest, not so much on any sustained level. No Western Soldier anywhere today has suffered a REAL, sustained siege like Anzio… a major counter attack like The Bulge, or lived with persistent casualties piling up by the hundreds for weeks on end, following one bloody assault after another to “take” or “invade” something under actual efforst by the Enemy to hold it..say, Tarawa or Omaha Beach, …the violent loss of an Aircraft Carrier Battle Group? An entire platoon, company, regiment ripped to pieces and taken off the line after a month of combat? 100 or more aircraft shot down in a single day?

Sorry folks. It just. Doesn’t. Happen. Anymore.

The truth is, Chicago is more violent than Afghanistan. So is Detroit, Philadelphia, Camden, Newark, LA etc. etc. ect.…how about we analyze the “average combatant” of an American city, say, all the young men known to have ,oh lets say say three or more “incidents” of engaging in “live fire” in their “hood”, and see what percentage of THEM have any Prior Service in the Armed Forces.

My money says it’s a statistical zero.
Would then anyone dare suggest a LACK of Military Serivice might CAUSE violence, based on the data?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
***** (Five stars)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Who did the Soviet Union fear the Most?

LA Liberal in a Corvette with a Cellphone?

Or a Truck Load of Heavily Armed Red Necks from Texas?

Don't mess with Texas.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Don't mess with Texas."

How many times has the Sooner Schooners rolled over Texas in conference chanpionships, national ranking and national championships over the past more than a century? :) In fact, the term 'Texas Redneck' comes from the Big Red rolling over them!

Q:What does an UT graduate say to an OU grad?
A:Welcome to McDonalds, can I take your order?

Q:How do you keep an UT student busy for a month?
A:Give him a package of M & M's and tell him to alphabetize them.

Q: What's the only sign of intelligent life in Austin?
A: Norman OK: 187 Miles

Q: What do you get when you cross a University of Texas fan and a pig?
A: Nothing. There's some things that a pig will not do.

Got plenty more if you can't figure these out! :)

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What's missing, here, is Roger Simon.

This is another article on PJMedia, of late, that could just as well have been published on the Socialist Party website, let alone in the NYT or LA Times.

The narrative is that our Vets and members of our active duty military are nuts. Violently insane, in fact. That's the same message being promoted by the left wingers in the MSM. That's the message of this article, here on PJM.

Another recent article on PJMedia openly promotes collectivism over individual freedom and over free market enterprise. That's called socialism, if not outright communism.

Hint: The recent palace coup at PJMedia is of more consequence than we've been led to believe.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What's missing here is how many of the violent returning infantrymen had joined the infantry voluntarily, and how many had been drafted.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You write: "Even after correcting for pre-combat levels of violence, however, actual combat was associated statistically with violent offending...In other words, by far the best predictor of criminal violence by deployed soldiers was their prior record of violence."

The term '[mathematically] associated with' is reasonable. However the term 'predictor' is post hoc ergo propter hoc. Don't you think?

Another thought: thank God for those violent people who serve to protect us and all we are and have.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A contemptuous article slanted towards those in the United States who serve our nations most critical role with the ultimate sacraficing! Trying to return the the mentality of the 60s and 70s?

The soldiers of WWII came home and built up the greatest nation in the world. Their children set about to destoy the great works of their parents and grandparents -- maybe that should have more p0recedence for discussionb than the one presented!

The soldiers of Vietnam came home to the vile receptions of the children of WWII veterans and their ilk -- want to talk about criminals do ya?

Disgusting article and presumption DOC!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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