NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 17, 2008

Any alleged atrocity committed in Iraq by American troops has been front page on the New York Times.  In the most recent story in this crazed vet genre, the Times bases its story on 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan committed a killing or were charged with one, says the Daily News-Record (Harrisonburg, Va.).

But the story doesn't put this figure in any statistical context.  Thankfully, the bloggers at Winds of Change do, says the News-Record:

  • Given the number of American troops who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq during the past six years, 121 murders represent a 7.08/100,000 crime rate.
  • Because the bloggers could not determine the precise numbers (the last official Pentagon figures were for 2005), they upped the rate by 40 percent to 10/100,000.

How does that compare with the general population?  It's lower, says the News-Record:

  • According to statistics from the Justice Department, the U.S. offender rate for homicide in the 18-24 age range is 26.5/100,000.
  • For young men in the 25-34 age range, it's 13.5/100,000.

War is horrific.  Combat not only physically maims soldiers, but might also leave emotional scars that must be dealt with.  But they certainly deserve better than being depicted as veterans on a killing spree across the land, says the News-Record.

Source: Editorial, "Crazed, deranged vets?" Daily News-Record, January 15, 2008.


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