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PTSD and Veteran Criminal Defense Wisconsin


Life and Death of A U.S. Veteran With PTSD -MOVIE

PTSD In Iraq Veterans-MOVIE

"Every summer when it rains, I smell the jungle, I hear the planes. Can’t tell no one, I feel ashamed.  Afraid someday I'll go insane.  Cause I'm still in Saigon, in my mind." The Charlie Daniels Band- Windows.
"My record speaks for itself. I know the two charges I have had in the last ten years are very serious; this too Imust live with for now. But I am not a criminal, but a troubled and wrecked man. Like many other vets, I know what Vietnam did to me. . . . Critical wounds do not always pierce the skin, but enter the hearts and minds and dreams that are only begging for help so badly needed."  Vietnam Veteran sentenced to death after killing another person.  At trial the prosecutor admitted the man suffered from PTSD but said it didn't matter.  "I don’t argue for a moment that he. . . doesn’t have a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, like thousands of others. He may very well have. But to the extent that he doesn’t know right from wrong? . . , That man pulled the trigger four times because that man didn’t want to go back to prison."
PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological condition often found in Veterans who return from war zones.  PTSD is a real problem that often contributes to veterans getting in trouble with the law and also contributes to drug and alcohol problems and suicide. Judges often think PTSD is used as an excuse when brought up during the defense of criminal cases.  PTSD is not an excuse, it is an explanation of a person's life experiences and helps show the factors that lead to a violation of law.  Traditional punishment such as jail/prison has been shown to exacerbate PTSD and increase the risk of future criminal behavior.  Some courts are creating PTSD specific programs for Veterans returning with PTSD to help prevent future crimes.  
A Veteran's Court is a court set up to specifically deal with Veterans who are alleged to have commited crimes.  Currently the only Veteran's Court in Wisconsin is located in Rock County, Janesville, Wisconsin, though there are other courts planning on starting in Wisconsin.  The Court is similar to a drug court and is intended to provide treatment and prevent future crimes.  A defendant sentenced may have to provide urine samples, may be assigned a mentor, and will be monitored for many months. 
Most people agree that Veteran's who put their lives on the line fighting for our rights and come back to the United States suffering from PTSD and other problems should be given a second chance.  According to the United State Department of Veterans Affairs and other experts, there is a direct link between PTSD and the commission of crimes:   “Many symptoms of PTSD can lead to a lifestyle that is likely to result in criminal behavior and/or sudden outbursts of violence. Individuals with PTSD are often plagued by memories of the trauma and are chronically anxious. Often, attempts are made to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. The emotional numbness many trauma survivors experience can lead the survivor to engage in sensation-seeking behavior in an attempt to experience some type of emotion. Some combat veterans also may seek to recreate the adrenaline rush experienced during combat.”  By treating the PTSD, there is a less chance of future problems with the law so society is better off as is the defendant.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD has this to say regarding PTSD treatment compared with incarceration.   “Although PTSD is a chronic condition, with the proper treatment and education, its symptoms can usually be successfully managed. It is unlikely that survivors receive the proper treatment for PTSD during incarceration. In fact, because prison life may retraumatize a person, a lengthy incarceration will likely seriously exacerbate PTSD symptoms and cause the person's level of functioning to deteriorate.” For more information from the U.S. Government regarding Veterans and PTSD click here.
Ultimately, PTSD is becoming a more common problem amongst Criminal Defendants and in particular, military members who have served in war zones.  Attorney Griessmeyer has experience working with PTSD defendants, counselors, and experts including a retired Marine Brigadier General Criminal Defense Attorney.  He has gotten represented veteran's on charges from felony fleeing to hit and run to battery.  He has gotten multiple referrals to the Wisconsin Veteran's Court for his clients including one referral where the assistant district attorney continually refused to agree to Veteran's Court until just before trial. At the plea sentencing in Madison, WI, the a.d.a. stated this was the first time he had ever agreed to refer a defendant to Veteran's Court.