The Veteran Population – Criminal Justice, Substance Abuse and Crimes Essay

The Veteran Population – Criminal Justice, Substance Abuse and Crimes

[August 21, 2015]

Need help with essays, dissertations, homework, and assignments? Stop wasting time and post your project on tutlance and get a real professional to do your work at CHEAP prices. Watch while Tutlance experts outbid each other.


  1. The Problem

As per research of the policy analysist and socialist, the veteran population is found in having mental disabilities/disorders. The statistics of HSR, NHS, and NCBI, identifies that this disorder has resulted in substance abuse and criminal activity, thereby, producing social problems in society; moreover, these problems affect the local policing agencies and operations. This paper deeply focuses on the problem, its background, facts and figures bearing on the problem, critical analysis, and the possible solutions (Russel, 2009). The problem of drug abuse, crime, and bringer or alcohol drinking is quite obvious in the veteran population. This paper discusses the facts of the veteran problems – their war experience in relation to mental illness and crime – and thoroughly discusses the researches, database, and policies to find the achievement and flaws. This problem arose after the World War I, and after that in 1998 to 2004, the statistics of crime rate kept on increasing. This problem has been identified by different researchers. Some researchers’ argument that mental illness is not a cause of crime among veteran population, whereas, the majority of the researchers, scholars and policy makers identified it as the core issue. According to the psychological point of view, the veterans are vulnerable to drug abuse and other substance abuse due to the violent combat experience (Peay, 2010). The Afghanistan and Iraq war returnee are found majorly to have these problems; moreover, they are also found to attempt suicide. Some suicide murders have also been reported in reference to this same problem. The probability of this problem among the veteran is high due to the violent behavior, they endure, in during the severe combats and violent wars; for example, in Afghanistan, they have experienced the suicide bombers and explosive bombs. They risk factor of death, may have, caused the veterans at war to develop mental illness, depression, anxiety. They, therefore, have used the substance abuse and alcohol to self-medicate (Carlson et al., 2010).

  1. Factors Bearing on the Problem

The overall situation of the veterans, especially the war returnees, rotates around the problem stated above. The factors have been very profound for proving this statement. Through the government online available database, the facts concerning mental illness, prisoners, crime, drug and substance abuse are as follows:

  • 20% of Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also found to have SUD. They are often found to binge alcohol drinkers due to bad memories and psychological issues; moreover, one out of ten returning soldier are addicted to drugs (“PTSD and Substance Abuse in Veterans – PTSD: National Center for PTSD”, 2016);
  • According to the last crime statistics report in 2004, 10 out of 100 prisoners were prior service in the U.S. Armed Forces. Most of them are the combat warriors and returning militants from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Gulf War operations. The statistics remained nearly constant till 2011-2012 (Statistical abstract of the United States, 2011);
  • The Bureau of Justice identified that in during 2011-12, that veterans amounted 50% in prison in comparison that is 10% higher than that of non-veterans. Out of the total veteran-prisoners, half the majority belongs to U.S Army; whereas, the remaining belongs to U.S. Marine, U.S. Air Force, and U.S Coast Guard (“Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) – Veterans in State and Federal Prison, 2004”, 2016);
  • 48% and 44% of the Veteran are prisoners and behind the bars respectively, and has served the U.S. Armed forces for three years. More than ¾ of the veteran prisons were discharged in terms of honorable conditions (“Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) – Veterans in State and Federal Prison, 2004”, 2016);
  • For about 35% and 14% of the overall veteran-prisoners, were incarcerated for violent sexual and drug crimes respectively (Statistical abstract of the United States, 2011);
  • And the statistics show that major percentage i.e. 55% of veteran prisoners disclosed the fact that the experts of mental health diagnosed mental disorders dated long or recently. This further signifies the fact that veterans who were told to have PTSD are double in number than the non-veteran (“Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) – Veterans in State and Federal Prison, 2004”, 2016);

From the above statistics, it is assumed that the veterans should be treated with good mental health facilities because, as per the statistics, the veterans who are in prison, mostly, are diagnosed with mental health disorders. Although, the crime is not negligible under the law; the veterans who are prisoners are mostly war returnees. This has to be considered under justice system to allow them to have the possible best treatment, thereby, enabling them to get rid of the trauma and anxiety problems that cause crime and substance abuse.

Further, it is assumed that policies should be modified in a context to treat the veteran before labeling them ‘criminal’ and drug controlling organization and agencies may be, are advised to look after these drug addicted and substance abusive veterans.

Nonetheless, the police officers and military officials may also be restricted to monitor any kind of drug or substance abuse among the on-duty soldiers and take immediate actions accordingly.

  1. Discussion

Different scholars have identified military service has several health impacts, like PTSD and nervous disease, on veterans (White, Mulvey, Fox, & Choate, 2012). These problems produce various social problems within a society. This creates a dilemma between crime and mental illness. The mental illness, undoubtedly, is a major problem by itself, but it gets severe when it is associated with a crime or substance abuse activity. This has been taken into consideration by agencies and community services yet there is a profound statistics showing the failure of the policies and justice system to some extent. This psychological problem is concerned with the militants who are fighting combat knowing the high percentage of death risk. This makes them adopt unintentionally the violent behaviors and associated crimes (Peay, 2010). The returning militants from Iraq and Afghanistan war were having severe neurological injuries and prolong psychological problems due to prolong combat, therefore, they were found to commit violent crimes like murder, as their experience there includes suicide bombers and explosive devices that deeply impacts the soldiers (White, Mulvey, Fox, & Choate, 2012). Therefore, these soldiers, after return or during the combat, commit suicide (Peay, 2010). As per the fact discussed in section II of this paper, the returning soldiers not only have severe psychological problems but they are addicted to drugs and alcohol also (White, Mulvey, Fox, & Choate, 2012).

Treatment Courts.

In during the research through different scholarly articles, it is found that different treatment courts have been established to provide treatment facilities legally to serve the one who has served the country. The first treatment court, established is Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court (VTC), New York, in 2008. Later, within four years, around eighty-five or more are active in approximately thirty states (William, 2016). As in section II, it is stated that 55% of the overall veterans in prison were having psychological disorders. The Officials who were active in the criminal justice system begin noticing that the most of the veterans, who committed a crime, were not having any prominent intension to do so except the mental illness, due to the prolong military combats (Peay, 2010). The Judge Russel, the Buffalo Court’s founder, described the Veteran defendants as a population who are at a position with exceptional needs (Russel, 2009). The statistics are, little in known, as most of the veterans who are suffering from the same problem are unreported. The one who are reported are constantly facing a lack of justice system and the other who are unreported are fearing of the justice system. The court system is accused by many offenders for asking the out of the context questions. The new courts need to be trained and mentored for better analyzation of the situation. Furthermore, the examination of the client should be considered profoundly as per the psychiatric prescription because often, the mental illness is not diagnosed properly or not identified. The Veteran Treatment Court is an advancement of modification of a drug court in many ways. The drug courts are more specified to the drug crimes and abuse. In drug courts, the person who is addicted to drugs is sent to a communal punishment – meaning to provide education, assistance and quality support so that he may get better but in confinement. The drug courts do have a testing system where these drug addicted veterans are tested regularly for drugs. Those veterans who are found in any drug activity during the program, are punished but this punishment is not as extreme as a jail. The program is not only limited to drug elimination but also works to provide education, employment opportunities, and community services. On the other hand, the veteran treatment court system is a combination of drug and mental health court. This type of court system not only works to eliminate the drug addiction from the veterans but also deals to provide assistance to the client who committed crime due to mental disorder. For veterans, therefore, the drug court is not suitable while veteran treat court is a better option. Most of the times the drug court fails to examine the reality of the problem in veterans but the treatment court handles it properly. The Judge Russel analyzed the situation and therefore proposed the plan of veteran treatment court. This court offers the veteran to have a VA advisor to incorporate the discussions between the court and the client; furthermore, to provide assistance for the client information and details.

Problems with the veterans.

The service men and women performs is of high potential risk from injuries to death with even worse psychological repercussions. The problems, thereafter the service, vary over a wide range- substance abuse, mental illness, and crimes.

Substance Abuse and Alcohol. According to the fact illustrated in section II, the 14% of the veteran prisoners are disclosed of drug abuse. This number is only confined to the prisoner; however, it may be more than this when talking about the veteran population as a whole.

Although, the illicit drug is lesser in number in veteran population as compared to the civilians yet smoking tobacco, drug abuse, alcohol, and binge drinking among the veteran population are severe than civilians and are on the rise. The survey held in 2008, by the Department of Defense stated the concerned health behavioral analysis among the active military personals on duty as about 2.3 percent of the military are found to be illicit drug addicted as compared to civilians, who are around 12 percent; moreover, the prescription drug using is found to be more in military from 2 percent followed by 4 percent in 2002 and 2005 respectively. In addition, drinking alcohol and smoking is also severe in militants; the same survey shows that 3 in 10 persons in service are tobacco smokers, 4 in 10 persons are alcoholics, and 2 in 10 persons are binge drinkers. The survey indicates the alarming situation by stating that young adults (18 to 25) are more vulnerable to drug abuse and mental illness. Nonetheless, due to the substance abuse and mental illness the veterans who are on service or off service are committing suicide – the increased statistics showed up in the survey held in 2008 that climbed to 29 percent (“Substance Abuse in the Military”, 2013; Newsletter of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2016).

Mental Illness. Recalling the fact, stated earlier in section II of this papers, signifying that 55% of veteran prisoners disclosed the fact that the experts of mental health diagnosed mental disorders dated long or recently. This further signifies the fact that veterans who were told to have PTSD are double in number than the non-veteran.

The soldiers – men and women both- are away from home for a prolong time to a strange place and most importantly the wartime. They, in during this time, develop a different form of mental illness as they see the dead bodies, shot or get shot, attacked, bruised, and handling the heavy machinery; nonetheless, they men and women both experience the sexual abuse in their camps by their fellow soldiers. The research report on the returning veterans in New York identifies the major mental disorders among around 22 percent of the returning veterans. The equivalent numbers were diagnosed with depression and PSTD. The report further confirms that PSTD is a high factor among this population. The estimates contribute majorly on the treatment seekers (Taylor, Sayer, Taylor, & Sayer, 2014).

The organization like VHA (Veteran Health Administration) in the years from 2004 to 2009, treated approximately fifty thousand returning and on-duty veterans. The diagnose statistics shows that 26 percent of these patients were suffering from PSTD, 7 percent from TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and around 5 percent with PSTD and TBI both. In summary, four out of five veteran suffering TBI also suffered from PSTD. According to the research, 15 percent to 23 percent of the veteran were diagnosed with PSTD despite no any symptoms experienced so far; whereas, those with symptoms of TBI and diagnosed with the same ranges from 4 percent to 9 percent. In during 9 months’ service in 2011 of VHA from October to June, 21 percent of the veterans were diagnosed with depression and anxiety (Carlson et al., 2010).

According to the Statistics of 2009, around half a million returning veterans, from Afghanistan and Iraq wars, were the primary user of the VA system. The statistics define 10 percent with AUD, 5 percent with DUD and a smaller amount of nearly 2 to 3 percent with both. In contrary to NSDUH analysis of data, the DUD statistics remains the same while AUD seems to be 5 percent higher; however, despite these organization, veterans do take treatment from other publicly funded healthcare units. To make the data more accurate and inevitable, SAMSHA with the collaboration of NSDUH put forwarded diverse articles and researches to analyze and examine the issues concerning health and mental illness. As a result of their research and efforts, nearly three-fourth of the veterans aged between 20 to 40 received treatment for major depressive episode (MDE). This achievement is near to the satisfaction, on the other hand, only quarter percent of the veterans diagnosed with major mental illness received the treatment and the statistics further declined for the treatment of SUD i.e. 11 percent. After the research by Respondent-driven sampling (RDS), the mental illness is caused by two factors: the first is due to the sever war combat and the other one Is due to the lack of correspondence in between the local communities they veterans return to. This creates other factors like homelessness, unemployment, poverty and so forth that further affects the mental illness in terms of depression and anxiety. The soldiers, before any treatment, fears the fact that their career will be affected or they will not be accepted in the society. The problems are no doubt obvious, this has to be campaigned in the society to eliminate the bullying concerned to mentally ill people and soldiers are no exception. This problem becomes severe when the veterans are imprisoned for any crime, they commit, due to the mental illness. Their mental health gets ever worse behind the bars. They constantly keep on developing anxiety, depression, PSTD, SUD and so forth mental disorders (Vazan, Golub, & Bennett, 2013).

The treated percentage of the veterans is quite low as compared to the overall affected veterans. If they are left untreated, they would definitely make the use of substance abuse and alcohol to get relaxation and meditation. This will further help to make mental illness more severe and alarming. As per the research, the half of the substance abusers have suffered the mental illness at some point in their life, therefore, the treatment should be made obvious and available without any fear. The social campaigns should be initiated to provide awareness to the society for treatment especially in veterans because the PSTD, depression, and violent behavior among soldiers is a threat to himself, the people around him and the society as a whole. (Russel, 2009).

Criminal Justice

Recalling the fact stated in section II of this paper that states that 48 percent of returning veterans are prisoners and 44 percent Veteran are behind the bars. They both have served the U.S. Armed forces for three years. Furthermore, 35 percent of the veteran prisoners were incarcerated for violent sexual abuse and 14 percent for drug crimes. The Veteran Treatment Courts (VTC) has been established to help ensure the criminal justice. This court system is new to the USA and under arguable analysis. The criminal justice is a serious and important issue when it comes to veteran population. The veterans suffer from a serious of diverse trauma and mental health issue, and due to unemployment, homelessness and a violent combat experience, they commit crimes and get involved in drug, substance abuse, alcohol and tobacco smoking. They crimes committed by the veterans who are mentally ill can be regarded to a special treatment or services. This tends to be more profound when it comes to PSTD and TDI complex mental health issues. The veterans who are caught – majors in number – for being mentally disturbed from a short or a long time. The combat experience disturbs their behavior to be more violent and impatient. They tend to loose who they were before going to the combat. Because in most of the cases discussed in the reports or research papers are the one who never was diagnosed with any symptoms of mental disorder nor they were found to have a little intention to convict a crime. After the return, the endure these problems with a violent behavior that causes the relational as well as the social gap to the soldier. In this section, we discuss, firstly, the overview of the crimes committed by the veteran and the court system. Secondly, why the need of VTC. Finally, the policies associated with crime and justice.

Overview. The crimes in veteran were first discussed dated back in 1948 when New York arrest report identified the statistics of veteran crime arrest up to 89 percent in a duration of around three years in during the mid-1940’s. This highlighted the rationale interest in the association of crime with combat. The hypothesis generated discussed that soldiers are vulnerable to social crimes due to violent combat experience because the training, they receive, emphasized violence as a major key role in the survival in the combat. This was, undoubtedly, no longer new as this hypothesis was already discussed after the World War I. Different researches were made to intermix the ideas; some of the researchers concluded that veteran’s crime is lower in numbers as compared to the non-veterans yet they also agreed with the fact that combat influence the violent behavior in the soldiers. Also in the researches, it was indicated that veterans who are jailed for committing a crime, upon release, the probability of committing the crime again were high due to violent behavior. These researches, although, constantly alarmed the policy and law-makers about the mental illness of PSTD and TDI among the veteran prisoners. In during the statistics in 1999, the rate of mental illness among veteran prisoners climbed from 6 percent to 16 percent. Furthermore, different scholars denied the rationale that military combat as a key role in crime and indicated the alternative substance abuse as the key-issue towards criminal behavior. Although no major actions were taken then to stop any future repercussions, that is the reason that the rate of crime kept on increasing and reached to 46 percent in 1998. In the recent research, this number further increased to nearly 50 percent in 2004 (White, Mulvey, Fox, & Choate, 2012). The crimes, the veteran incarcerated, have been murder, substance abuse, violent sexual abuse, suicide and so forth. As per the researches in relation to the veteran crimes, these crimes can be categorized into five categories. The first category comprises of vehicular homicide – including substance abuse. The second category is for stranger homicide – the factor is identifiable. The third category deals with the crimes in relation – friends, colleagues, military friends and so forth. The fourth category signifies the victims to whom the veteran is involved intimately i.e., spouse, or girlfriend. The fifth and the final category considers the murders and suicide (Schaller, 2012). The criminal justice system started taking action on the veteran mental health problems. Different measures were taken into consideration as how the veterans crimes differ from that of non-veterans. The context was purely based on the idea to provide the fair and transparent justice equality in the society. Two reports – confirming this idea – were published by the Bureau of Justice system (BJS) to examine and analyze the veteran prisoners in terms of crime and mental illness. The first report in 2000, identifies the statistics rise up to 46 percent of the veterans who incarcerated the crimes; although, the statistics were quite lower than non-veteran or civilian but this is because of the low veteran population (3.5 million decreases in the population over two decades). The second report was published in 2004, this is considered as the recent research and statistical report of the BJS, states the same theme of crime decline among veterans as compared to the civilians. The focus point of this report is that the offenders in the veteran population were educated, white, older and served approximately three years in the different combats like Afghanistan and Iraq war. Considering the similar context, jurisdictions started implementing the new court system namely VTC (Veterans Treatment courts). The system is modeled after drug court. In VTC, the veterans from the prisons are brought before the court, if – in during the court sessions – all the requirement are met, then the charged of incarceration are removed. The main principle, of this court, is to ensure the justice in the best possible way. The first court in the USA is a Buffalo Treatment Court, the client here is brought once in a year for the prosecution under the parameter defined by the treatment court’s justice system. Moreover, the different community programs have been initiated to support the veteran who are suffering from mental illness; for instance, the community programs related to trauma illness, depression and anxiety have been introduced to help get the affected veterans out of these convicted problems. The SERV Act was also implemented in mid-2008. This Act allows the development of courts throughout the country. In this regard, Texas became the first state to ensure this policy and legalized it in the criminal justice system (White, Mulvey, Fox, & Choate, 2012).

The need of VTC arose after monitoring the issue that combat returnees are vulnerable to incarceration. The researches stated the constant increase in the mental illness among the prisoners. Two different organization, AARIN and ADAM started collecting the data to analyze and examine the type of problems the veterans are facing and to what extent they could be solved. They examined the jail facilities, the and ensured the sampling date of the arrestees in the same time and flow. After all the examinations and analysis, the both reports concluded the mental illness as the supreme cause of the crime among the veteran population. The strategy followed in the reports falls into two categories: the first one is to comprise and collect the data, and the second one is to compare the veteran data with non-veteran. After all the analysis published and reported, the VTC court came into existence to apply the provided concepts and ideas (White, Mulvey, Fox, & Choate, 2012). The VTC is working progressively to ensure the profound justice system, alongside the VTC the VHA is providing the grants to the veterans for community services in order to get them away from any drug or criminal activity. This court system is not an authenticity, as reports have shown about 12% of the veteran got treated from the court are again found in substance abuse and criminal incarceration. The system, undoubtedly, is a good step yet there needs to have some modification in a respective system. Right now, around ninety VTC are working in different states of USA. This creates a demographical limitation to assist all the veteran in USA (White, Mulvey, Fox, & Choate, 2012).

The policies associated with this crime is quite clear as mentioned earlier in this section, but the implication that the pre and the post veteran may suffer – after a sound literature review- is little in known. The data collection through AARIN project in collaboration with Maricopa Country, clearly states that some Judges are asking irrelevant questions from the clients in the court, thereby monitoring system over these courts should be established; furthermore, the problems associated with the veteran prisoners in jails should be pollinated. The issues concerning these problems, maybe, investigated in a better and profound way to help establish the crime-free society. Through the research review, it is found that police officers are the one who, in their daily job routine, meets the people around the corner who are veterans and with or without any doubt are seemed to be as mentally ill. These officers are often seen to provide them instant support or referring them to any nearby Psychiatric clinic funded by government or communal service. Through a literature review, the notifiable point is the mentorship program. This program is implemented to mentor the newly established VT Courts. This program with the help of NADCP database allows the new courts to be mentored through latest research, training, equipment, technical assistance and so forth (White, Mulvey, Fox, & Choate, 2012). The policy should be considered for the VTC to collaborate with drug courts to understand the case in the best possible way.

  1. Conclusion

In conclusion, the veteran population who have fought severe and violent combats are at a high risk of mental illness like PSTD, TDI, SUD, depression and anxiety that causes them to drug abuse and crime incarceration. The statistics profoundly and significantly indicates the prisoners, who committed crime and drug abuse due to this mental illness. The crimes are as serious as violent sexual abuse, murder and substance abuse. The problem should have to be considered as a serious matter for the society. The policies have been set up as SERV Act and Veteran Treatment Courts to help ensure the criminal justice. Furthermore, the community services also act as a profound key-role for the same purpose. The treatment of these veteran returnees is necessary before labeling them ‘criminal’. The database also provides convenience in understanding the figures reported and the context of reporting. This will allow the better examination of the client’s experience and the possible solution as to how to get the client away from the problem. The veteran who have taken the treatment from the veteran treatment court are lesser in number as compared to those who are reported as a whole. Therefore, the criminal justice system – in terms of policies and work – needs to be improvised as thousands of more combat returnees will be a part of USA society. The policies need to be more concerned and focused on mental illness and psychiatric problems as far as veteran combat warriors are concerned.

Actions Recommended

The Actions recommended after the analysis of the whole situation, by reviewing the reports, researches and literature are as follows:

  • The courts, although are mentored, needs to be monitored also. As monitoring, the courts will indicate the improvements and failures;
  • The courts should be strictly limited to the question – concerning the combat experience and psychology – asked to the client veterans;
  • The database needs to be more profound, as little is known, to the pre and post combat warrior’s experiences and illness. The statistics still lacks in efficiency. Most of the statistics are concerned with the veterans who are caught. The one who are not caught should be considered for assistance also;
  • The social campaigns should be introduced to the society to provide awareness to the veteran who are unwilling to take any treatment;
  • Before labeling the veterans as ‘criminal’ the treatment should take immediate consideration and action because naming ‘deviant’ will further provoke them to be more deviant.
  • The police should – if finds a veteran in a disturbed situation- immediately refer him/her to a psychiatric help or address the problem to the concerned organization.
  • The veterans who are not imprisoned should be considered to be monitored, as they may also have mental illness because, in future, they may commit a social crime.
  • The substance abuse, alcohol, and tobacco smoking should be monitored amongst in and out duty veterans, to help ensure the healthy lifestyle, and to avoid any health repercussions.

References: The Veteran Population – Criminal Justice, Substance Abuse and Crimes

Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) – Veterans in State and Federal Prison, 2004. (2016). Retrieved 28 May 2016, from

Carlson, K., Nelson, D., Orazem, R., Nugent, S., Cifu, D., & Sayer, N. (2010). Psychiatric diagnoses among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans screened for deployment-related traumatic brain injury.Journal Of Traumatic Stress, n/a-n/a.

Newsletter of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2016) (1st ed.). Washington, D.C. Retrieved from

Peay, J. (2010). Mental Health and Crime (pp. 37-55). Routledge, 2010.

PTSD and Substance Abuse in Veterans – PTSD: National Center for PTSD. (2016). Retrieved 28 May 2016, from

Russel, R. (2009). Veterans Treatment Court : A proactive Approach. New England Journal On Crime And Confinement, 35:357, 357.

Schaller, B. (2012). Veterans on trial. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books.

Statistical abstract of the United States, 2012. (2011). Washington, D.C.

Substance Abuse in the Military. (2013). Retrieved 29 May 2016, from

Taylor, B., Sayer, N., Taylor, B., & Sayer, N. (2014). Annual reports on Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare utilization among Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans with traumatic brain injury and comorbidities to inform policy, research, and practice. Journal Of Rehabilitation Research And Development, 51(7), vii-viii.

Vazan, P., Golub, A., & Bennett, A. (2013). Substance Use and Other Mental Health Disorders Among Veterans Returning to the Inner City: Prevalence, Correlates, and Rates of Unmet Treatment Need.Substance Use & Misuse, 48(10), 880-893.

White, M., Mulvey, P., Fox, A., & Choate, D. (2012). A Hero’s Welcome? Exploring the Prevalence and Problems of Military Veterans in the Arrestee Population. Justice Quarterly, 29(2), 258-286.

William, H. (2016). Special courts help vets regain discipline — Programs turn to mentors who have served in the military, too. MilitaryTimes. Retrieved 29 May 2016, from