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Benjamin Sebena Murder Trial Could Have National Repercussions, Experts Say

A criminologist said the case of the shooting of Wauwatosa police officer Jennifer Sebena is not cut-and-dried.

WAUWATOSA, WI—To the legal layperson, the case of the murder of Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena may appear to be open and shut.

Jennifer’s husband, Benjamin Sebena, admitted to investigators in statements that he had stalked her for days, had lain in wait for her on Christmas Eve morning, and shot her five times in the head, according to charging documents.

The two guns presumed used to kill her—one of them her service weapon, the other a rare type that matches a shell casing found at the scene—were found hidden in the Sebenas’ basement ceiling.

His plea of not guilty last week tells us only that there will be a trial.

Based on his admission alone, but also with a seeming preponderance of physical evidence against him, what defense could Ben Sebena possibly make that would keep him from being convicted and sent to prison for life?

The almost absolute certainty that Sebena’s plea will be changed from not guilty, to not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, and the reasons for it.

Sebena was a Marine who said he was in the worst fighting Iraq had to offer, in the uprising in Ramadi where some 50 Marines were killed. He later was grievously wounded in a mortar attack that, he said, blew a buddy to pieces a few paces away.

Sebena could reasonably claim he suffers from both mental disease and defect.

Legal and criminal experts say that the Benjamin Sebena trial will undoubtedly be long and extremely complicated and may turn out much differently than the general public expects.

According to one national expert on just this sort of crime, the case is likely to draw national attention and ultimately have national legal repercussions.

An expert on Wisconsin criminal justice agreed with every word of that, and explained in detail why.

A unique case to a longtime observer

Larry Barton is the president of American College in Bryn Mawr, PA, and a leading expert on workplace violence. He frequently testifies as an expert in criminal cases, he teaches at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, and advises the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

He has studied thousands of homicide cases. He has never seen one quite like this.

“To begin with,” Barton said, “very few returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have been violent or homicidal. Suicidal, yes; homicidal, no.

“The suicide rate has been three to four times higher than among Vietnam vets, but the homicide rate has been extremely low, lower than in the general population.”

That makes Sebena stand out as a rarity among vets, but not among the thousands of regular citizens who take the lives of the people closest to them in domestic homicides.

But Barton felt certain that Sebena’s lawyers would use post-tramatic stress disorder and brain damage in his defense.

“And this PTSD defense,” Barton said, “could have national implications no matter what the outcome. It will speak to how we look at veterans and how the law regards PTSD, and it will be studied closely by many for a long time.”

A very different version of events

Ben Sebena’s family and friends have remained silent in public about his mental condition, and his medical records are not available. But someone very close to him did speak of it.

According to public records, Jennifer Sebena on Dec. 6 told her fellow officer Tracy Burbach what she had been going through with Ben.

The criminal complaint filed by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office prior to Ben Sebena’s charging says that “Jennifer Sebena told her fellow Police Office Burbach that she had been the victim of domestic violence by her husband Benjamin Sebena and that he had put a gun to her head.”

But another and much more detailed version of the account is contained in a subpoena seeking Ben Sebena’s phone records.

In that account, Burbach says nothing about domestic violence but rather tells a detective that Jen “told her about problems she has been having with her husband Benjamin Sebena. Sebena related that her husband was a Marine and had served two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffered a traumatic brain injury during his service. Benjamin also suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

Jen Sebena “told Burbach that her husband suffers episodes of flashbacks and thinks he is back in Afghanistan or Iraq,” the report goes on. “One incident that Sebena related to Burbach involved her husband pointing a handgun at her head during one of his flashbacks. (Jennifer) Sebena was able to talk her husband down and retrieved the gun from him without further incident.”

The report also says that “Sebena told Burbach that her husband’s episodes or flashbacks occur more frequently at night than during the day. Sebena related that since she was working late shift she was concerned about her husband harming himself and never knew what state he would be in when she came home from work in the morning.”

Fitting part of the PTSD profile – but not all of it

To Barton, that means that Sebena exhibits one of the criteria that have been used in successful insanity defenses, including for PTSD: a history of episodic, psychotic events. The other is evidence of complete mental departure from reality in time and space at the time of the crime.

“It can’t be a one-off, or at least that would be very rare and extremely difficult to present,” Barton said. “But when there is a history of chronic psychosis, it’s another thing.

“That alone, though, is usually not enough to hold much water with a jury. In the moment, the defendant would have to be A-to-Z episodic — in this case, back on the battlefield. The appearance of planning, execution and escape would seem to preclude that.”

Homicide cases that have resulted in verdicts of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect have usually demanded those conditions, Barton said. Psychologists refer to a “total miasma” that leaves a subject utterly, demonstrably unable to tell right from wrong at the time of the commission of a crime.

However, Barton said, every case is different and each new case is being examined in the light of new knowledge about PTSD.

“If this were a more typical case of domestic homicide,” he said, “possibly still involving some degree of psychosis, we would call him a ‘grievance collector.’ For whatever reason, the perpetrator feels deep grievances and betrayal.

“This case is especially noteworthy because he knew she had a gun. He would have himself been at some risk. Was that simply to deflect suspicion as part of a plan to evade detection? Or did he feel in harm’s way?”

“Is there is something in this that suggests he did feel justified?”

Finding competency and conformity

Such a defense—that is, self-defense, because of psychotic fears—is always difficult to prove, but it is by no means unheard of.

Janine Geske, a former circuit judge and former justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and now a distinguished professor of law at Marquette University specializing in criminal law, has seen or studied as many such cases as anyone in the state and has decided more than a few.

Geske, like Barton, expects Sebena’s plea to be amended to not guilty, mental disease or defect, and says a plea can be changed at any time going forward.

“For him to be tried, he would then have to first be found competent to proceed – whether he can even be tried,” Geske said. “The procedure would be a hearing on competency. The court appoints experts, usually one for the defense and one for the prosecution, and the court can appoint a third, an independent expert.

“That hearing would determine whether he can aid in his own defense—is he able to conform his behavior?”

Assuming he is, Sebena would be given another opportunity to maintain his innocence or admit that he is guilty of but not responsible for the crime.

With a not guilty plea by reason of mental disease or defect, what would follow would be “a bifurcated trial in front of the same jury,” Geske said. “The first would be to establish guilt, and the second, sanity.”

“He has the right to be tried on his innocence or guilt in committing the crime, and he doesn’t have to testify in that first trial.”

Frequently, in insanity defenses, defenses plead guilty to the commission of the crime and move on to the insanity phase, Geske said. But not always.

“Sometimes, the defense wants to go to trial for strategic reasons, to get certain evidence in front of the judge and jury early and often.”

Admissible evidence or an incompetent statement?

Geske said that the chief evidence against Sebena—his confession to the crime and the significant physical evidence—does not constitute a fait accompli for the prosecution, and far from it. The key word, again, is competency.

Sebena apparently did not ask for a lawyer to be present during his statement to police, but there is no reason to believe that his confession was wrongly obtained by police through any failure to inform him of his rights or through any coercion.

Never mind that. “He may not have been competent to give his statement,” Geske said. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see a motion to suppress his statements to police because he was not competent to give them.”

In other words, if a person is accused of being deranged enough to stalk for days and kill his wife, can his mental faculties have recovered in the few hours and days immediately after to the extent that he was competent to relate what he did before, during and after?

Suppose a judge did grant a motion to suppress Sebena’s statement—and that is just a possibility, by no means a foregone conclusion, Geske said. There is still all that evidence, especially the guns and ammunition found at his home.

“That,” Geske said, “could be ‘the fruit of the poisonous tree.’ If they went and got a search warrant based on his statement, which we’ll suppose is now suppressed—then that is suppressed as well.”

How will a jury see it – if a jury hears it?

If motions to suppress, assuming they are made, are not allowed, and a jury hears what Sebena said he did, regardless of his state of mind when he said it, what will its members think?

“If there is planning, and an attempt to cover it up, juries feel that is conforming his behavior,” Geske said, referring to the legal standard of “what a reasonable person would think.”

“The state never stipulates to not guilty by insanity,” she said. “They let the jury decide. And remember, Jeffrey Dahmer was found to be responsible for his actions.

“Juries don’t like to find (insanity). They are told that he would go to a mental institution and possibly be released when he is judged to be safe.”

“The problem is the planning,” Geske said. “With PTSD, a trigger could be a loud sound, a car backfires, and suddenly you’re back in combat.

“But the planning, the going home, trying to cover it up…”

And for that reason, it’s possible that Sebena’s defense wouldn’t want a jury, Geske said.

“They could waive the jury,” she said. “Sometimes they will decide they have a better chance with a judge. A judge may give him the opportunity for parole. I would say it’s possible he could get parole after 20 years, depending on the judge.”

PTSD succeeds and fails as a defense

In 2009, two murder cases were tried, one in Pennsylvania and one in Oregon. Both defendants used PTSD defenses, claiming insanity.

In the Pennsylvania case, Nicholas Horner, a decorated combat veteran, shot and killed a teenage boy working at a Subway sandwich shop and an older man who was going out to pick up his mail.

Horner's defense claimed PTSD from his service in Iraq had so changed him that when he flashed back that day, he was not in his right mind and did not know right from wrong. There was plenty of testimony from family and friends that it was true that he was a very different man.

But at trial, the jury heard that Horner had gotten drunk—many PTSD sufferers "self-medicate" with alcohol—and had then killed the teenage boy during a robbery of the sandwich shop, in which Horner stole $130 from the till.

Horner then slew the older gentleman to take his car keys so he could get away.

The jury found Horner guilty of two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, believing that his behavior in carrying out an armed robbery and a car-jacking had nothing to do with a flashback to any combat zone. Instead, it spoke of planned, executed criminal intent with the mentally conforming behavior of making an escape.

In Oregon, Jessie Bratcher, also an Iraq War veteran, went to a store and bought a gun and then went to confront a man, after his girlfriend told him the man had raped her and that he, Bratcher, might not be the father of their child.

Bratcher got into a shoving match with the man, then pulled his gun and pumped six hollow-point bullets into him, killing him.

Bratcher, facing 25 years in prison, claimed he had suddenly felt like he was back in the war zone. There was testimony from family and friends that he had acted strangely since his return—his sister said she had seen him in the back yard, gardening, with an AK-47 strapped to his back.

Despite his apparent planning—arming himself and going to find the victim—Bratcher was found not guilty by reason of insanity, was committed to a mental institution, and was expected to be released in 2012, just three years after the murder he admitted. Patch could find no record showing that he has or hasn't been released at this time.

No determination was ever made at trial as to whether Bratcher's victim had in fact committed a rape.

Former Supreme Court Justice Geske said she tried a PTSD homicide case years ago in which the defense waived a jury and asked her to make the decision.

“He was brutally raped in prison,” Geske said. “He was mentally scarred by it. Later, a man came on to him. He snapped. It was in a moment. He lost it and thought he was threatened, and he killed.

“I found him not guilty by reason of insanity.”

Bigbe February 02, 2013 at 10:06 PM
You will have to excuse me since I tend to be pretty libertarian in my politics and twice qualified for Mensa but being called ignorant for not buying into the obviously idiotic thought that the way to curb gun violence is by arming everyone kind of pisses me off. Only a fool wouldn't realize that the more guns available for criminals to aquire, the more guns they WILL aquire and many of those who start out as law abiding people can and will, on the spur of the moment, react with poor judgement. I don't wish for those people to have a gun when they act on impulse.
steven Jacobs February 02, 2013 at 10:29 PM
guilty-open and shut. It is amazing that as soon as some one is deemed a nutjob he gets a pass whereas a mentaly healthy person gets hammered.
Dennis Hull February 02, 2013 at 10:31 PM
Jim, great objective article. I would hope the five questions asked by UH35D would be addressed by the court and openly available to the jury (if there is one) or media (if there isn't). Nowdays, so much "common sense" information is suppressed from the hearing, that it's no wonder that, to the outside observer, the outcome seems to make no SENSE. While some trials seem to be very open, a lot are not.
Susan Conner February 02, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Must be nice to live in a world where one is not touched by what war does to men and women and children! I lived with a schizo father that served in WW@ and Korea. Trust me, there were times when breakdowns happened and it was NOT all rose gardens!
Susan Conner February 02, 2013 at 10:53 PM
As Homer Simpson said, "But I'm mad NOW!"
Marjorie February 02, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Give your stupid point to the monster in Alabama who shot and killed a bus driver and kidnapped a 5 year old boy and is holding him hostage. This mental case easily acquired a gun(s) due to lacks gun control laws in the state of Alabama. Now a little boy is suffering, his parents are suffering, and the bus driver (a hero & good family man) is dead. So much for your gun argument. Yes, it's the gun!!!
Randy1949 February 02, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Please, do not let this thread devolve into yet another argument over gun control pro and con.
Mike February 02, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Roger that UH34 D I read you Lima Charlie. Sebena is wearing a Purple Heart on his Blues so he may have been in the S--T but, as we both know many say they have been when in fact they have not. My son also served in OEF back in 05 and again in 08. Then he was in OEF (Afghan) in 2010he . I see the results just as you probably have. I know that you know that's where we come in bro, not just for our sons but for all of our brothers and now even our sisters. We can offer our help and as Marines we have that obligation. They will usually listen because they know what we have been through and they respect us. We have that common bond Marine. Semper Fi bro. Mike (5th Tanks 68 - 3rd Tanks 69)
mike February 02, 2013 at 11:31 PM
Why is this new crop of combat vets so damaged? they compared to the vets of WW11 Korea and my war Vietnam, are having a easy go of it, sure ied's have done lots of damage but booby traps took their toll in Vietnam also, the combat soldiers of today are living in luxury compared to previous wars, they are much better armed and armored than previous wars, they can have instant contact with family at home, and have it often,I don't know why they think they have it so terrible, and yea i know multiple deployments but if they dont like it leave the service you are vollunters not draftees
Mike February 02, 2013 at 11:32 PM
As a former Police officer, and Marine Corps Veteran (Vietnam Era) I will only agree that such a defense should not be allowed to be used to evade prosecution. However, because of what I have seen and experienced I can not dismiss the fact that the defense which ya suggest should not be accepted is a valid defense. PTSD affects people in a different way and regardless of the same exposure. It also has a different effect on the human brain from person to person depending upon the degree of illness etc. I suppose the bottom line is that if ya haven't been exposed to PTSD or even combat ya just would not understand.
UH34D February 03, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Jim: I believe the last sentence in your post just about covers it all. I pressume it's accurate and wonder what kind of time frame we're looking at with the court apperances? Were they fairly recent? I realize many judges are hesitant about committing people, but three times strapped to a wheelchair wearing protective clothing! This individual was obviously dangerous to others and himself, hence the precautions. It appears to me somewhere along the line an error in judgement by the system was made in this individuals case.
UH34D February 03, 2013 at 12:19 AM
Copy that message Teufel Hunden. Seeing a medal, scar and Dress Blues, well, they're a dime a dozen out there. Show me a real DD 214, answer a few simple questions so we can separate the men from the boys in my world. Happy your son got home okay, and please extend my best wishes to him for a happy and fulfilling life. Help him leave the past behind. It's not easy and work at it nearly everyday with our son, but we're getting there. We've made a lot of progress. Have faith and remember 'Always Faithful.' Gordon Crew Chief - HMM 263 Nam 11/66 to 2/68
dan crabtree February 03, 2013 at 12:38 AM
Well the texas ft hood killer maj hassan has escaped any and all punishment as has most of the terrorist tried here in the states.. with seven years given to one the harshes sentence passed out...Obama soft on terror? you betcha he is..So maybe this guy should waljk as wel
Jim Price February 03, 2013 at 12:55 AM
UH34D – Ben Sebena appeared in intake court for a reading of the charge on Dec. 27, just four days after Jennifer was killed; he next appeared one week later, on Jan. 3, for a preliminary hearing and finding of probable cause; and last on Jan. 24 for his arraignment, where a plea of not guilty was entered and accepted by the court. I was present and in the front row of the gallery for all 3 appearances. Sebena in each case has been wheeled in strapped to a wheelchair and wearing a protective vest over a hospital gown (the usual garb for even capital case defendants is an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs, sometimes shackles). In his first appearance, after 3 days of questioning, I described him as looking near-catatonic and enervated. His parents and siblings were also in the front row and pressed against the glass trying to get his attention. He stared past them – 1,000 yards. He looked as empty as any living person I have ever seen. His gown was off his shoulders and the livid scar of a shrapnel wound that nearly took off his arm was in full view of the court. He was not asked to speak and he didn't. In his prelim on Jan. 3, he looked better but was still expressionless. He waived his hearing, which required him to answer 4 or 5 yes or no questions from the judge to demonstrate his understanding of his waiver. He answered "Yes, sir," in each case, but still showed no expression or emotion. In his plea on Jan. 24 he did not speak. His attorney entered it.
Marcheal Gideon February 03, 2013 at 02:27 AM
Well what do you know a victim of the government who sends him overseas to fight a war we shouldn't be in and than comes back and the government does nothing to help him.
Mike February 03, 2013 at 03:32 AM
In California a state with the strictest gun control laws in the nation the only people using a gun to perform a violent act are people who in nearly every case ae in possession of a gun in violation of the gun control laws. Those people are usually either paroled convicted felons or who are very frequently hispanic gang members, FYI people still blame the gun that in some cases was smuggled into the country and in nearly all case not bought at a gun store or gun show. Criminals do that stuff.
Joe Schmoe February 03, 2013 at 03:34 AM
Mike. As one of those combat vets I will say that what you have said is not entirely unfounded. However, the media likes to focus on ieds while seeming to completely disregard the firefights. I'm not sure why. You are also correct that we were better armored, which is why I believe our wounded to killed ratio was roughly 9:1 while yours was 3:1. We've had about half the total casualties you had in Vietnam. More importantly, I don't think my peers are more damaged. I just think society in general has undergone a "wussification," so to speak, since Vietnam. The civilians in my generation like to bitch about, and ascribe labels to, things that people like you and me would simply call "life." My infantry peers and I all have the periodic nightmare or "flashback," which is no big deal if you ask me. But when you return to country full of bleeding hearts and a VA system that pays you for bitching about a few nightmares you have an incentive to feel sorry for yourself and take the money.
J.B. February 03, 2013 at 03:58 AM
Having served through four combat tours and still having occasional "flashbacks", I can only say to those who've never been in combat: "if you haven't been there, you are NOT QUALIFIED to render any judgement in this case". It is tragic that she died. YES. It is equally tragic that our young MEN (not punks) are sent into battle as instruments of Government Policy, then suffer without medical attention even remotely resembling the dedication they showed in their service to their country. I know. I have experienced it first hand. I now volunteer with organizations that provide support to these young MEN. We are able to do a lot, but NOT ENOUGH. If you haven't served in combat, i recommend you VOLUNTEER your service to these fine young MEN and WOMEN. You might learn something, Juana.
Tom 1947 February 03, 2013 at 05:29 AM
I think it’s time the military start taking some of the blame for the homicides and suicides that are happening to returning soldiers that have seen their buddies get blown apart or experience how it feels to kill another human being for the first time. Being a soldier during wartime is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. How do you stomach and cope with horrible sites like finding women and children mutilated because they were just there! They didn’t harm anyone! Now take that to the bank and see if you get a little (or a lot) crazy in the head? When his wife told her fellow officer that she had been the victim of domestic violence by her husband and that he had put a gun to her head, shouldn’t that have been a wakeup call that someone needed help Fast? But facts are facts, if the husband did it, he has to be punished by law. What I’m saying is, the military and anyone with connections to this person should question their acts and notify someone before it’s too late.
UH34D February 03, 2013 at 05:33 PM
I've noticed a number of comments about war and the obvious damage caused participating in combat. I would like to make two comments. First, one thing I believe Americans can do is demand from Congress the elimination of the War Powers Act. This Act had its originas in the Johnson administration and arose with the Gulf of Tonkin incident. In my opinion it provides a president powers to commit American troops that exceed those delegated in the Constitution. If America is to commit troops, the president should ask Congress for a declaration of war and all that would mean for the United States. Second, I would reintroduce the Draft. The Draft is the great leveler within our military. By that I mean, it draws from all walks of life, it should draw from all social strata with no exceptions. Because of my association with the Marine Corps, I see far too many Marines who's political philosophy is dominant throughout the service and that concern me as a citizen. History has demonstrated, when a military becomes too ideological it can become a problem. It comes to believe it is special, deserving of more, has a special place within a society and begins to demand more power. Some may disagree, but I believe we have seen this lack of respect for civilian authority displayed on a number of ocassions by generals and admirals with their comments to the media and their individual behavior. I believe a Draft would make it more difficult to commit the US to unwarranted wars.
UH34D February 03, 2013 at 06:51 PM
To mike & Joe Schmoe Here's what I believe. The ghost of Vietnam still lingers in the minds of many and of those many, they are now in elected or appointed positions in government. Call it national guilt if you like, but deep down, they nearly all remember how difficult it was to be a Vietnam veteran. Whether they supported the war, if they didn't, you speak with them, nearly all agree, Nam vets got a pretty raw deal. It is this mind set that has driven a lot of the effort we have seen to treat our veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan far differently. Add the fact you can add the backdrop of the US actually being attacked on 9/11 solidifies the effort being made to treat our current crop of veterans with the respect and honors they fully deserve and maybe, just maybe, this guilt I believe exists is skewing toward erring on the side of more, not less. Frankly, I have no problem with that if true. Better to see the $$$'s going to a veteran than some foreign country where the US is attempting to purchase loyalty.
UH34D February 03, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Actually, we don't know if the government hasn't helped. There's nothing in the story that indicates if this person was being treated at a VA facility, or had sought out treatment at a VA facility. The author of the story did comment this person had been brough into the courtroom restrained in a wheelchair and wearing protective garments I believe on three ocassions. I'm not sure if it was for his protection or to protect those around him because he had been deemed dangerous? If it was due to his being deemed dangerous, I cannot understand why a judge would not have had him committed to a psychiatric facility for evaluation? A judge could have easily ordered he be transported to the nearest VA psychiatric facility. If none was available within a certain distance, I'm not sure how far, he could have had him committed to a private facility and the VA would have to pick up the tab. Just a lot of unaswered questions in this story. But to plan, plot, stalk, carry out the murder, then hide evidence of the crime, well, that sounds to me like this individual was rational and knew exactly what he was doing.
J.B. February 03, 2013 at 08:10 PM
UH34D: I most strongly agree with you on your first point. I agree with you, mostly, on your second. I must add that, if there were a draft, or maybe obligated service like many countries have, there would be a sense of duty. There would definitely be a broader "understanding" of the sacrifices made by all who serve and, consequently, a greater empathy. However, there would be a force composition that lacked the discipline and commitment that we see in an all volunteer force. As an officer, I saw many young Marines who, despite being fine young men, served with a "chip" on their shoulder when they realized that, although they were volunteers, they were promised things by recruiters who "exaggerated" the finer points of service and played down the less appealing aspects of that life. There is nothing worse that having "malcontents" in an otherwise highly motivated force. I believe that a "drafted" force would have too many "distractions" as a consequence of having to "babysit" those who would feel it "beneath themselves" to serve. We currently have very fine young men and women volunteering their service to their country. We have elected representatives (If they can be called that.) who are unworthy compared to our service members.
UH34D February 04, 2013 at 01:37 AM
JB, I served with draftee's in Nam, and they were just as good a Marine as any I served with that had enlisted, in some cases better. There is a third point to be made about a Draft, and that is the People. When you have less than 1% of the population shouldering the burden of military service, it becomes a hidden burden. It just doesn't directly affect enough citizens for enough to care. Well, I can guarantee, if there were a Draft, you can bet a lot more citizens would care about the wars we become involved in on this globe if sonny boy's number gets called. Do you truly believe the Iraq/Afghanistan Wars would have lasted as long, would have even taken place if a Draft were in place? I doubt it! No, it was a calculated decision by Washington to do away with the Draft. The Vietnam War protests scared the bejesus out of Washington and they needed to find a way to make sure it never happened again...voila, the all volunteer military! They knew then exactly what they were doing, make no mistake about it. By the way, I didn't meet one bad Marine in any Company our son served with. Didn't care for some of the politics, but you know my opinion in that area. Thank you for your service, much appreciated by this veteran...Semper Fi
J.B. February 04, 2013 at 05:15 AM
Thanks UH34D. And thank you for YOUR service. I agree whole heartedly with this last post. You're a great American. Semper Fi
UH34D February 04, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Thank you J.B. I don't know if I'm a great American, but I have been involved in the process of government since returning from Nam. Beginning with the Agent Orange issue on June 13, 1966, up to the body armor issue in May 2003, and again with the body armor situation in October 2010, and many issue in between, I've kept my elected officials feet to the fire. If you're looking for something to sink your teeth into, write to your Congressional delegation and ask them why the British Apache's in Afghanistan can lift a heavier combat payload than our Apache's? And that's the old C & D models the British are using and we have the Echo models. The British are lifting about 1500 pounds more in weapons/ammo. I'll tell you why, so you wil know. The Rolls Royce engine is far superior. And this info is straight from pilots flying the Apache I've spoken with. Less ammo, less time on station to protect ground troops. We had the same situation with the Harrier if you remember. Check and see who builds our Apache engines?
CowDung February 04, 2013 at 03:51 PM
Jim: Thank you for your response. You bring up some very good points, and after hearing your explanation I think that I can agree with you--the article was published fairly, and it properly serves to set the record straight.
Nancy Hall February 05, 2013 at 10:15 PM
Returning combat vets are no more or less damaged now than they were in prior wars. The difference is that people are talking more openly about the long term psychological effects of combat than was the case in the past. The PTSD diagnosis is one that is also being applied to victims of trauma that is not related to combat. This includes rape, kidnapping, assault, child abuse, serious accident and natural disaster. The VA has pioneered treatment programs that do help veterans live happier, more functional lives than might have been possible if these damaged vets were simply dumped back into society and expected to resume their prior lives despite irrational anxiety, social withdrawal, hypervigilance, debilitating mood swings and intrusive flashbacks. If this is "wussification," then so be it. You're certainly free to live your life as you choose, Joe Shmoe, as long as you don't hurt anyone else. However, you might consider that if you regard your nightmares as "no big deal," then you probably don't have PTSD. For those who would actually do have PTSD, there are options. Their flashbacks and other symptoms are a very big deal to them as well as to their families and they can get help learning to manage and live with their symptoms.
Nancy Hall February 05, 2013 at 11:05 PM
This does not, necessarily, apply to Benjamin Sebena. It's a more general comment. An NGRI defense requires quite a bit of supporting evidence, including proof that the individual who committed the crime could not differentiate between right and wrong and did not understand the consequences of the crime. The defense is pretty rare, even when a defendant is clearly psychotic. Our prisons are full of people with severe, chronic mental illness who were convicted despite being psychotic at the time of arrest and trial. Prisons have just replaced the old public psychiatric hospitals as warehouses for the mentally ill. If you want be outraged over something, be outraged over the numbers of people with severe, chronic mental illness who have been left to fend for themselves on the streets. The vast majority are not dangerous, but a few may pose a risk when psychotic and all would benefit from reliable treatment...not just clinics where they can get a prescription once a month, but case management and programs and places to live.
alvin thomas April 17, 2013 at 02:55 AM
Mike, you sound like the WWii ass holes who were here when we came back from Vietnam....keep your mouth shut, and your ignorance won't show!

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