A report on National Public Radio yesterday (11/12/07) noted that veterans make up 12.5% of the population of US prisons but only 10% of the US general population. I would have thought that veterans would make up a smaller percentage of prisoners -- perhaps no more than 7% -- but the reporter mentioned post-traumatic stress syndrome and job loss as possible causes for stress in veterans that could lead to criminality.
All of this reminded me of my earlier post about those ubiquitous "I Support the Troops" ribbons that people sport on their cars. When people say that they support our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, what I hope they mean is that they:
* work hard to maintain friendships with their soldier friends when those veterans come home, even when the vets rebuff them.
Remember, folks: PTSS makes people depressed, cold, and/or mean.
* offer them back their jobs, or offer replacement jobs when necessary.
Many returning veterans find that their work has dried up. The government is totally to blame for this situation (employers can't hold jobs forever), but if you hired someone who was later called to arms, one way to support the troops is to hire that person back.
* do whatever they can to help their friends and family adjust to life back home after a stint in the military.
Anything short of this is just twaddle. And anyone with a ribbon touting how they support the troops when they really don't should get a new ribbon: "Better them than me."