VIET NOW: Killing The Blues


Bodies of Federal soldiers, killed on July 1, 1863 Gettysburg, Pa.

NEW YORK TIMES: Town by town across the country, headlines have been telling similar stories. Lakewood, Wash.: “Family Blames Iraq After Son Kills Wife.” Pierre, S.D.: “Soldier Charged With Murder Testifies About Postwar Stress.” Colorado Springs: “Iraq War Vets Suspected in Two Slayings, Crime Ring.” Individually, these are stories of local crimes, gut-wrenching postscripts to the war for the military men, their victims and their communities. Taken together, they paint the patchwork picture of a quiet phenomenon, tracing a cross-country trail of death and heartbreak.

The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases combat trauma and the stress of deployment — along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems — appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction.

Three-quarters of these veterans were still in the military at the time of the killing. More than halfvetchart190.jpg the killings involved guns, and the rest were stabbings, beatings, strangulations and bathtub drownings. Twenty-five offenders faced murder, manslaughter or homicide charges for fatal car crashes resulting from drunken, reckless or suicidal driving.

About a third of the victims were spouses, girlfriends, children or other relatives, among them 2-year-old Krisiauna Calaira Lewis, whose 20-year-old father slammed her against a wall when he was recuperating in Texas from a bombing near Falluja that blew off his foot and shook up his brain.

A quarter of the victims were fellow service members, including Specialist Richard Davis of the Army, who was stabbed repeatedly and then set ablaze, his body hidden in the woods by fellow soldiers a day after they all returned from Iraq. MORE

RELATED: JACKSONVILLE, North Carolina (CNN) — The suspect in the death of a pregnant Marine has been sighted two or three states away from North Carolina, police said Sunday.Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean was alone and on the move when he was seen by a witness Saturday night, Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown told reporters. The Sheriff’s Office said authorities may be less than two hours behind the fugitive.

hillaryiraq.jpgRELATED: A new survey estimates that 151,000 Iraqis died from violence in the three years following the U.S.-led invasion of the country. Roughly 9 out of 10 of those deaths were a consequence of U.S. military operations, insurgent attacks and sectarian warfare…Iraq’s population-wide mortality rate nearly doubled, and the death rate from violence increased tenfold after the coalition attack. Men between 15 and 60 were at the greatest risk. Their death rate from all causes tripled, and their risk of dying a violent death went up elevenfold.

RELATED: This morning on Meet the Press, Hillary Clinton defended her 2002 vote for the Iraq war resolution, saying that she “thought it was a vote to put inspectors back in” so Saddam Hussein could not go unchecked. She insisted that she and others were “told by the White House personally” that this was the purpose of the resolution, and cited President Bush’s assurances to defend her position. MORE

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