When it comes to returning veterans who commit crimes, the news media and the general public have focused most attention on their war records, not their criminal records, says the Sacramento Bee. Not all military personnel who commit civilian crimes experienced war firsthand, and some of the ones who served in a war zone have chosen not to blame war-related stress. The Bee examines several cases in which returning veterans have been accused of serious crimes.
Tennessee National Guardsman Rusty Rumley never served in a war zone. On Feb. 27, he shot four people at an apartment complex before killing himself. Rumley was a convicted felon when he entered the Guard, which wasn’t required to check his criminal record because he had prior active duty service. That policy was changed after the shooting. Minnesota recently became the second state to pass a law similar to a 2006 California measure that empowers judges to bypass sentencing guidelines and choose between treatment or jail for veterans convicted of any crime.