The most recent tragedy of the Afghan and Iraq wars is former US Marine Itzcoatl Ocampo, 23, who was charged on Tuesday with four counts of murder. According to reports Ocampo stalked and stabbed 4 homeless men to death in California. The DA said Ocampo is eligible for the death penalty and called the 23 y/o marine "a monster."
But is this young man really a "monster?" It's too early to explore pieces of his young life. But it's safe to assume his marine training turned him into a killing machine. He stalked his victims like prey - something learned in the military. Why did he snap? Why didn't he assimilate successfully back into civilian life? These questions may never be answered. But the VA must do more to help our young people returning from war. Offering transition phases and mandatory mental health check-ups are a start to identifying individuals prone to PTSD and anger/rage disorders.
Vets aren't any more likely to commit violent crimes than the mainstream population. But they are placed in highly stressful situations that most of us would never be in. We owe them the help they deserve.