It is believed that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, affects as much as 7.7 million American adults. The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 20% of those suffering from PTSD are Iraq war veterans. There are 20.4 million veterans living in the United States today. Their services span the last 100 years. With a population this large, it is not uncommon to meet veterans who have served in multiple wars, meaning that of those 7.7 million Americans who suffer from PTSD, a large number could be multiple war veterans.
PTSD is described as a disorder that can occur after having suffered a traumatic event. Symptoms can arise shortly after the traumatic event but some have reported symptoms manifesting several months to years later. Symptoms include reliving the event that induced trauma, avoiding situations reminiscent of the trauma, depression, and hyperarousal (being jittery, always on the alert, irritability, aggression). Considering the events that may occur during war, it is no surprise that war veterans may show symptoms of PTSD. Life for veterans who have been discharged or served out their time of duty can be difficult enough without PTSD; adding the disorder can make life complicated, and as a result, these affected individuals sometimes turn to activities that are in conflict with the law.
Behaviors such as alcoholism and public outbursts due to triggers are only some of the actions that can mark a veteran as a target of the police. For example, upon returning from duty in Iraq, veteran Christopher Lee Boyd grew irritable and paranoid. In an attempt to protect his family, he began to carry a gun. He became prone to drinking himself to sleep in order to avoid nightmares related to his memories of the war. After having spent one entire day drinking, he remembers waking up in a police car headed to prison. Boyd was told by the cops that he ended up at a party and shot one of his friends in the chest. Luckily, his friend survived, but Boyd was sentenced to five years behind bars.