of war such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain
injury affect veterans in different ways. For some, the combination
of mental strain and impulsivity can lead to criminal court.
"The numbers (veterans with post-combat
related issues) are expected to grow as the wars in Afghanistan
and Iraq wind down," says Brock Hunter, a Minneapolis criminal
defense attorney who helped edit the book, Attorney's Guide to
Defending Veterans in Criminal Court.
"We know so much more about PTSD today
than ever before from a medical standpoint, psychological standpoint
and from a historical standpoint," he says. "The more
we know about it medically, the more scholars are going back into
historical documents and finding veteran crime waves following every
major war our country has ever fought. Veterans bring their wars
home with them."
"The big wave is yet to come," adds
Hunter, who worked on the book with Floyd Meshad, the president
and founder of the National Veterans Foundation. "It's going
to be the veterans who are still serving, who have served multiple
combat tours like we've never done."
"Meshad wrote a book on the subject in
the 1980s that," Hunter says, "was the inspiration for
the new one."
The manual explains the mental health aspects
of PTSD and traumatic brain injury so attorneys can understand the
experts, and it contains a section on 'cultural competency' to help
them understand their clients. The book includes an extensive legal
section covering how PTSD can be used as an insanity defense, to
prove diminished capacity, in plea negotiations and in sentence
mitigation, says Hunter, who recruited 'all [his] heroes in the
area of mental health, the law and veterans' to write sections of
"PTSD is treatable," he says. "These
folks can turn around and be very valuable assets to their communities.
... History has shown very clearly that if you can get a veteran
into treatment and intervene with them, you can get them on their
American Bar Association Journal