A few weeks ago, we warned against an increasingly prevalent narrative in news: That war Veterans are violent, unstable, and dangerous. I explained why that simply isn’t the case, and how those aspersions can hurt Vets and deepen the divide between us and civilians.

Thursday, the national media moved a step closer to establishing this unfortunate characterization as conventional wisdom in the newsroom. USA Today, a national newspaper second to only the Wall Street Journal in distribution, published a story with a headline brimming with violent imagery:

Police get help with vets who are ticking bombs

In an age where millions of people get news from sources like Twitter, or simply glance at newspaper ledes during morning coffee, headlines often inform readers what they need to know. In this case, it’s that police officers need reinforcement in a growing battle with “ticking bomb” Veterans. It doesn’t matter that the program might be useful in helping law enforcement recognize issues facing some folks after returning from combat. The headline paints the story of Veterans—any Vet, really—as a ticking bomb, primed to explode.

USA TODAY publishes stories on Veterans issues all the time—and typically they’re balanced and informative. On the same day this article ran, they published a story on the status of homeless Veterans.  We could be talking about that story, but unfortunately, we have to refute that Vets are violent, unstable psychos.

From the article:

“We just can’t use the blazing-guns approach anymore when dealing with disturbed individuals who are highly trained in all kinds of tactical operations, including guerrilla warfare,” said Dennis Cusick, executive director of the Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute. “That goes beyond the experience of SWAT teams.”

That brings up important questions: Who are the disturbed individuals and how prevalent are they?  Is this threat common enough to justify such a response?  USA TODAY continues:

There is no data that specifically tracks police confrontations with suspects currently or formerly associated with the military.

 This is an issue. After noting the perceived problem, the reporter acknowledges that data on the topic is sparse—or non-existent.

But an Army report issued this year found that violent felonies in the service were up 1% while non-violent felonies increased 11% between 2010 and 2011.

During that time, however, crime in much of the nation declined.

 While understanding the relation to crime dropping “in much of the nation,” the significance of a one percent increase in service-related violent felonies in the last year seems unclear.

Ultimately, the story hinges on bizarre statistical framing. The reporter acknowledges that the kind of data used to make a claim about military-wide increases in violent crime does not exist. Instead, we are presented with a minor uptick in violence—which may or may not be indicative a large or even growing problem.

USA TODAY continues by highlighting the story of a single incident in Fayetteville, North Carolina in which a Veteran exchanged gunfire with local police. Coupled with two recent news reports out of Washington State and Los Angeles, a shallow conclusion could be that this represents the trend of “ticking bomb” Veterans.  But isolated cases do not a trend make.  And while it’s easy to make that presumptive connection, it’s irresponsible to do so without hard evidence.

Darrel Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities (Police) Chiefs Association, said the type of training proposed by the Justice Department represents “one piece of the challenge” in dealing with an increasing number of mentally ill suspects.

Again, we have the assertion of “an increasing number of mentally ill” Veteran suspects, but no empirical data to back that up. (And now others have begun to take note. Ron Capps, a contributor to TIME’s Battleland, called the headline “absurd.”)

The ticking bomb metaphor, as inflammatory and unacceptable as it was, is a perfect term for this perception of an “increasing number of mentally ill suspects.” The melodramatic language conveys a surprising and violent event. A bomb is bad enough, but a ticking bomb? You never know when a ticking bomb will go off; that’s what’s so heinous, so destructive about it. You may not even now there’s a bomb at all. The only thing you do know is that it will explode at some point. The reader of this story, then—given a story so devoid of context and facts and appropriate measurements and statistics—is left to conclude all Veterans are walking powder kegs. They have always ticked, and it’s only a matter of time before an explosion.

If Veterans are ticking bombs, we at least owe it to them to provide non-anecdotal evidence before making such an accusation.  And in this case, USA TODAY failed to do that.

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Published on Jan. 27, 2012

Estimated reading time is 4 min.

Views to date: 520


  1. steve camp February 11, 2012 at 4:56 am

    Does it really astound you that the press calls vets ticking time bombs? After all these are the same moronic idiots who called the Vietnam vets “baby killers”. So they have to continue to attack those who pay the price. Keeping up traditions you know. Guess they don’t know what side of the bread is buttered on.

  2. Ray Willis February 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    TICKING BOMB. Civilians are dangerous!!! TICKING BOMB. Running with scissors is dangerous!!! TICKING BOMB. Morons are dangerous!!!

  3. Tom Girouard February 1, 2012 at 9:19 am

    In response to this article all I have to say is to look back into the history of this country , Veterans have always proven to be one of it’s most loyal and valuable assets.
    No other group of Americans have given so much both in and out of service then we , while during several conflicts we have been the least appreciated . The vast majority of Veterans have made good lives for themselves and their families and have contributed more then most to the this Country and their communities. Where would this Country be without their sacrifices ?

  4. crazy cajun February 1, 2012 at 2:27 am

    Well I have been out of active service for well over 2 decades now. I guess this means my count down timer is some where between 2 and 5 seconds till I go off. Oops I am a postal employee, now that makes a nuclear ticking bomb. I wonder if it reset my countdown timer though. hmmmmmm

  5. Dave January 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    As a Vietnam vet, I think Hollywood is to blame. I think that Sylvester Stallone in his “Rambo series did more damage to the veterans image than any thing I can thnk of. I think that is where that “ticking time bomb” garbage came from. If it didn’t , it sure perpetuated it.

  6. The HUNK January 31, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    The original article was another shameless attempt at propaganda by out state-run media to demonize our military and veterans to justify disarming them, placing them on watchlists and, labeling them as ‘enemy combatants’, as they are the greatest resistance to this power mad criminal government seizing power and abolishing the Constitution. While we certainly have the capacity to inflict violence and are trained and often experienced at doing so, if we are so dangerous and undisciplined at containing it, then where are the headlines to go with these lies and baseless alarmism? The only thing correct in the article is that trigger happy Gestapo law enforcement should think twice before attempting to use their Nazi storm trooper tactics against veterans, as those rogues are conquering heroes at beating in the faces of passive protesters, but yellow cowards when dealing with even one person who knows how to stand up for himself. Thank you, Mr. Horton, for laying down the law on that one, because I am so sick of being slapped in the face for my service by this obscene society that I believe that it is high time that we establish our own, as the America that we loved died a long time ago and there is nothing left of it to defend.

  7. John Nihen January 31, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I nearly got sick to my stomach at the storyline that occurred on the TV Show “Glee” last week. One of the main characters, Finn, talks about enlisting in the Army to follow in his father’s footsteps, a soldier who was killed during Operation Desert Storm. He is confronted by his teacher, stepfather and mother who tells him that contrary to what he had been told, his father was not a war hero who died a hero’s death, but rather a “troubled vet who was disturbed by what he witnessed and either took his own life or overdosed.” It is SO TIRING to see this stereotype and narrative played out over and over again! I work and socialize with veterans from different branches of service and different eras, both combat and non-combat. Every single one of them is bright, energetic, positive and interested in continuing to make a contribution to their country and community. The only thing we can do to fight this stereotype is just that: Fight it every time it comes up. I don’t do it with anger, but I firmly push back on anyone who I feel is perpetuating this grossly unfair characterization of our vets.

  8. Lieutenant Colonel Matt Bendele, student, Command and General Staff College, U.S. Army Logistics University, Fort Lee, Virginia January 31, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    It really amazes me that the media has to discredit an institution to sell a story. On the one hand, there is a concerted push in America to hold the American Soldier on a pedestal. The phrase “hate the war, but love the soldier” comes to mind. I find amazing that a reporter would us the term “ticking bomb” to generalize soldiers in this way.

    I would think making this an issue that law enforcement needs to address would only exacerbate the issue. I would focus police officers thinking that they have to watch out for every veteran that they come across because any of “them” could explode at any second. Somehow the movie Rambo comes to mind. Something so simple will actually grow into something more grandiose just because of a perceived stereotype. The funny thing is that a vast majority of soldiers that deploy aren’t in the combat arms or never even left a base.

    A crux of the matter is that young men and women in our country who serve in our military take an oath to defend our country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Why would a veteran forsake that oath and automatically take up arms against local authorities. All Soldiers are also trained and asked to live up to the Army values. This type of thinking goes against those values.

    I agree with you that reporters need to show empirical data to back up their claims. Otherwise, they might as well move to Hollywood and begin writing the next Rambo movie.

    “The views expressed in this comment are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.”

  9. jusme January 31, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    jusme says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    January 31, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    civilians can be very annoying anyway… It’s the lack of training.

    W T F ??? Awaiting moderation??? How about get a life already.

  10. jusme January 31, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    civilians can be very annoying anyway… It’s the lack of training.

  11. David Ballard January 31, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    The most dangerous thing in this country are addicts and alcoholics who don’t get the help they need either. My bet is there are more people incarcerated from drug and alcohol than any other type in the nation and when they get out and want to contribute to society, we don’t let them. The same thing with vets, vets are this or that, they’re heros is what they are. Everyone deserves a second chance, maybe a third, its when they refuse to take advantage, they become crimminals. There’s no money in it unless it’s published to scoop the news. What a waste of resources. I applaude what few judges there are to at least try to help those who need the help. As for the others who refuse that help we need to incarcerate. From a combat vet with a rated PTSD. I didn’t refuse the help. We need to get over ourselves.

  12. Robert A Schwehr January 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Some serious issues?or Much ado about nothing?Should we say all we can do is speculate?No read the Article, and if you are a loved one of or yourself a still sick and suffering disabled veteran(hopefully you are not in this category even if you have earned it)Read it and weep.retired Federal Law Enforcement Officer and combat veteran still serving.What was said by the Rabboni on this issue?”Weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn,”Ok VA Heal the and tend the sick,God bless the Troops and all our Police.

  13. Al Gator January 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    >>Darrel Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities (Police) Chiefs Association, said the type of training proposed by the Justice Department represents “one piece of the challenge” in dealing with an increasing number of mentally ill suspects.<<

    This is the money quote of the news item and tells us just why this nonsense comes out of the blue now. Note that earlier in the article, even swat teams are outmatched by us unhinged vets.
    In order for the Justice Department to rationalize accelerated militarization of local police, they need a boogy man. We just happen to fit that bill, never mind that its all fartgas, its public perception that counts and that's the point of this piece of hideous propaganda.

  14. Max January 31, 2012 at 1:25 pm


    I’m a veteran, and am not afraid of anyone. Neither should anyone be afraid of me. I am NOT a ticking time-bomb, and yet I know enough about life and the world to know that those demented souls that want to call us “ticking time bombs” have big problems of their own. For those of us who have served in any sort of combat (Vietnam in my case), we have observed war, one of the uglier parts of life, first hand. We also understand the meaning of “reality” that does not relate in any way to “reality TV.” We are also acutely aware of how fragile life is. We are also aware of what living in the rest of the world looks like, and we were willing to do our part to defend and uphold the will of the people of the USA as defined by our national leadership.

    If THAT makes us “ticking time bombs,” then so be it. Maybe we are potential terrorists as well, as we don’t want our country to descend into the pit of dictatorship and have already proven our willingness and ability to defend our way of life.

    So, for all of you who believe the “ticking time bomb” theory, again I say “BOO!!”

  15. Marvin Jones January 31, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Instead of equipment, a substantial number of “peace officers” around the country are in need of better training that supports the oath they take to uphold the Constitution. Frankly, I am alarmed about their actions in a number of cases. To a significant extent, they are out of control and acting with impunity. And that is exactly what the agents of King George III were doing with their writs of assistance, which is why we have a Fourth Amendment.

    The following is from an incident about a year ago:

    The below was sent to John W. Chidsey, Executive Chairman and CEO of Burger King Corporation.

    One week ago today, I decided to stop at the Burger King on 16004 Shady Grove Road in Gaithersburg, Maryland for dinner, thinking that I might run into a friend of mine there, and, if so, we would watch the Celtics game together on their big screen TVs. We ate and then drank ice tea. He checked to see if they would change the channel, and the answer was yes.

    There was a delay because the place got a little busy. So we went back into the other room to watch the college game until the channel could be changed on the outer sets. Meanwhile, I continued to drink ice tea. And he switched to water. And a good thing too, because the police were called. They said that a complaint had been made against us. And we were forced to leave.

    Please note the fact that no one from Burger King approached us at any time before, during, or after the officers’ appearance at approximately 2000 hours. Furthermore, the Montgomery County Police never asked the customers’ side. Does that mean the accuser is always right?

    I am an Army veteran with an Honorable Discharge, a National Defense Service Medal, a Good Conduct Medal, a Letter of Commendation, and two Letters of Recommendation, one from the battalion commander and the other from the battery commander, for a White House Fellowship. Moreover, last week I completed working in a program at the VA Hospital. Both the Chief and her deputy were pleased with my performance. So, how odd it would be to start a life of rowdiness, at 59, by drinking ice tea while waiting for the Celtics game?

    My friend is not a veteran. But his son has served in Afghanistan and is, at present, in Kuwait. How do you think he will feel when his father answers, “What’s new?”

    What happened was so stunning, so insulting, so humiliating, so outrageous, and so unnecessary that I was left speechless. But that was March 2, 2011, a date which will live in infamy.

    The Attorney General of the United…

  16. Jester January 31, 2012 at 1:02 am

    Ahh, this makes sense, Congress and the Repugs are seriously considering changing retirement and vet benefits. Lets make us all crazy so they will not have to pay out promised benefits.

    • Michael February 1, 2012 at 9:08 am

      Spoken like a true liberal

  17. Michael D. Mullins January 31, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Super article. The idea that Napalitano initiated with her letter about veterans being on the home grown terror watch list was never retracted. All these things, perpetuating stories with no facts, putting out memos from various federal agencies, and issuing training videos and brochures, seems bent on validating her original proclamation. What is the old tactic? Tell a lie often enough and it becomes truth; perceptions become reality. If she issued orders to the agencies put under her Homeland Security umbrella she was free to spread the word by remote. And police response to these situations seems to be the proof in the pudding that she has succeeded in making us the enemy.

  18. Tex January 30, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    What that reporter failed to realize is that what separates us from the real ticking time bombs… honor, integrity, discipline… the things that are engrained in each of us as we put our money, and our lives, where our mouths are… which is on the line. It goes without saying that the number of highly skilled and trained veterans is substantial, but history will show with thorough review that veterans are the least likely to blow up, in spite of having more lifelong reasons of considerable nature. So the next time a reporter who lacks any significant degree in statistics decides to play like the government or an advertising/marketing department and put a spin on the numbers, he or she should think twice because we’re a statistically large and powerful group of people, who control more than just ourselves… we control major corporations, government, and most of all, a large part of the subscriber base that pays that reporter’s salary. :-) Besides, it’s obvious the reporter did not believe the story he wrote, because if he did believe we were all that unstable, and highly capable of locating and eliminating anything in our way, then he would never have never written a word out of fear for his life; after all, I’m sure he had to think he was lighting someone’s fuse somewhere nearby.

  19. Cliff January 30, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    c.1978 “Walking Time Bombs”
    Grunt 67-68 199th LIB

  20. Mike D. January 30, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    A year ago I was taking a Continuing Education course for “Senior Citizens” at the local University on living with chronic health problems. In the first class we were asked to tell what those problems were. I said, “Diabetes and PTSD.”

    For the next two classes the Director of Continuing Education sat next to me, trying to judge if I was “okay” to be in the class. When I found this out (and yes, I was given her stamp of approval), I promptly visited my friend Casey, who just happens to run the University’s Veterans’ Services Center (they all want the GI Bill money!).

    I was 66 at the time; I’ll be 67 in a few days. My VA psychologist hasn’t had me locked up yet and actually feels I’m doing quite well. I don’t plan to run amok or anything else. But because I said “PTSD” I was felt to be a “ticking time bomb”. What annoyed me most was that this was from supposedly well-educated people!!

  21. john thill January 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    I think its a matter of wanna bees wanting to destroy the vet. they are jealous cause they didn’t have the courage to join. now they are whining.

  22. Kevin Erskine January 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    I would have to agree, at least for myself as a veteran-I do see myself as a ticking bomb, based entirely on how the VA handles and (mis)handles claims and appeals. I’m treated well medically, however. Nearly six years waiting on a fair decision on an appeal for what was caused by the DoD medical staff to start with is dispicable.

  23. gunnyg January 30, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    What else is the media supposed to write when the director of Homeland Security herself classified us as “violent urban terrorist” as soon as she was appointed her cabinet position.

  24. ranger5zero January 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    The “Media”, today just as they did in VietNam play to the sensational. Any story that has the potential to evoke an emotional response will be inflated, contorted and sensationalized to achieve the maximum emotional response.

    Bottom line IS the bottom line! The more sensational, tragic and unimaginable a story can be made, the more attention it gets, the more emotional response it gets, the better it pays.

    The Truth be told, if the average Joe or Jane American had the “Personal Integrity”, “Selflessness”, “Honor”, “Dignity” and “Moral Purpose” of a Veteran of Honorable Service,
    This nation would not have elected the corrupt Government we now suffer.

    Those of us who have served Honorably know and understand to a deeper level the words of Thomas Jefferson.

    You know them and I know them, but if we, the highly skilled warriors that our nation has trained dare to utter those words, the “Media” (and our Government) is sore to exploit the sensational and condemn us as subversive, dangerous and yes even as a ticking bomb

    From time to time even the most perfect Democracy must be refreshed with the blood of Patriots and Tyrants.

    Semper Fi

  25. Robert S January 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    What is happening is similar to what happened when Jaws came out. People are afraid to go into the water because of the PERCIEVED threat of being eaten by a shark. When’s the last time someone was eaten by a shark? The time before that?

    Let me play a bit of Devil’s Advocate here and accept that veterans returning from combat are “ticking-bombs.” That said, why is it that the steps for an actual bomb threat are much different than the reported steps taken with veterans? I mean, why is there so much time and effort dedicated to investigating whether or not the threat is valid, if it is valid, then how much of a threat is it to others, and what are the best steps to diffuse the threat. Furthermore, if the bomb has gone off, as in the cases reported in Washington, California, and North Carolina, there are still steps to take to ensure there are no more explosions.

    Let’s not just jump to the other side of the debate, here. If something is generally accepted, for instance, Climate Change, instead of just saying it doesn’t exist and keep doing things that are obviously harmful to others, we should also take steps to alleviate the PERCEIVED threat. In this case, we need to do more to help veterans transition. We need to follow up on their transition progress. We need to educate the general public on veteran issues and bring them into our own world.

  26. Chuck Cahill January 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    How about insisting on USA TODAY retracting the story and stating that the article WAS NOT based in fact along with disciplining the journalist who fabricated the story, not in fact BUT to sell newspapers! Industry should be embracing these great American Men & Women (our military) for their sacrifice, unwavering dedication and commitment to do for all us what this journalist lacked the fortitude and character to do for his country! Another intellectually lazy liberal journalist who ironically represents USA TODAY, both the newspaper and a growing population in this country.

  27. Richard January 30, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Having been on “both” sides as a former homeless veteran and semi-retired news reporter I can empathize with the hurt labeling causes some. I have been seeing this both in the news and in the entertainment media over the past 40 or so years. How many procedural cop shows have we seen where the perp was a “disturbed Vietnam vet?”

    Spice, as to spice up a story’s packaging, aside the reality is that there are unhinged individuals out there and some are veterans. Sometimes the bureaucracy of the VA, where I get my health care, can exasperate me to where I am left numb. I have heard VA people themselves say that they are sometimes surprised more people don’t go off the deep end in the hospitals and clinics. When you talk about such incidents, all it takes is one individual with an assault rifle and/or semi-auto pistol and you are talking a hell of a mess.

    I don’t like vets being pictured as being a bunch of psychos. But there are some out there who need help. I have known of cases where a veteran went the “suicide by cop” route because there was no one one mile away at the VA hospital or on the 200-cop police force who could deal with someone suffering from mental episodes. This is a problem in some places. I don’t know the context of the particular story, but I know quite a few like them. The problem of a stereotype is bad but one person who can create a tragic scene within a matter of minutes is even worse.

  28. Matt W. January 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    I do agree with certain parts of the article USA put up but not that veteran’s are psycho’s. That’s just pure b.s. Yeah, we are better trained and better experienced than the typical LEO and SWAT team and we have the knowledge and skills to handle ourselves but not in a violent way on innocent people for no reason. I would defend myself, my home, my wife or my family/friends, yes, but not attack innocent’s just for the heck of it or because I’m ticked off. I’d counter the article by saying that veteran’s are actually more stable and disciplined than civilian’s are and you can find that by comparing civilian crime stats vs. military crime stats/conviction rates. I have been the victim of discrimination and lies because I’m a combat veteran. I have talked about stuff in a general conversation before with another veteran in public and the waitress there was being nosy (I didn’t know she was at the time) and after I left, she called the cops and they were looking for me for about 3 days until they finally pulled me over and illegally searched my Jeep. I told the cop he should have more respect for me and he said some stuff that I didn’t think he even understood. So I’m weary and I’m cautious because of my training and experience as an Infantryman and Soldier. I will never attack anyone innocent, even on my worst day.

  29. ancientreptile January 30, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    “Ticking bombs”? Again! The trash that comes up with these stories should have THEIR

  30. Gregory Long January 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Just over a year ago two unscrupulous staff members of my business being unhappy with being caught as liars reported that I as a Vietnam Veteran was assembling my assault weapons to kill them and “anybody else in his way”. As a SWAT team was supposedly assembling to break in on me at home (which without warning WOULD have drawn fire) and take out me and my “assault dog” which at the time was my three month old Collie mix puppy!!!! A quick trip to visit the Sheriff put this down before anyone got hurt. But…it goes to show how assholes use our Service against us.

  31. Marion January 30, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano, I believe, is the big instigator with her interpretation of us Military People as “Right Wing Extremist’s”. After she came out with those words of wisdom, her’s only I think, then everybody else played “pile on”. If one of these Big City Police Dept’s was under seige from one of the drug cartels, what would happen if a group of ex-Military personnel showed up, with their weapons, to help the COPS. I imagine they would think the drug cartel had called for back-up and would try to kill their own help (us) also. Our Law Enforcement Officers, City, County,( AND) State need to realize that most of us ex-military personnel could be used as a large back-up force in case of an emergency. In my opinion, all they would have to do is ask for help, they wouldn’t even have to say “please”. Thank you for your time. TSgt., USAF Retired.

  32. nam-vet6869 January 30, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    When I returned from Vietnam in 69 I was station in Oakland California. There were a lot of protest and I got hassled a couple of times. The thing that got me when I left the Army and went to find a job was the general perception of people that we were all crazy and had been slaughtering women and children. This concept was influenced buy the Media. If there was a group of Veterans meeting the media always seemed to find the guy in ragged fatigues, drunk or on drugs, that had seen and/or participated in horrible war crimes. Most of the problems caused by Veterans were caused by want to be veterans, or those that had been tossed out for bad conduct. This is where they are trying to go now. Those of us from Vietnam era who have seen first hand how the media will manipulate the story to make sure the Veteran looks bad. I make it a point to thank Veterans and welcome them home. I tried to make it as a civilian but after I was turned down for a job because the manager said he could not have an unstable murder working in his store, I decided to go back with my own kind. Went back on active duty and back to Vietnam to get away from it. Now we will have to work to keep the returning Veterans from being treated and pictured the way we were.

    To all of you who have served in Vietnam, Gulf War. Iraq, or Afghanistan, Thank you for your service and Welcome Home, we love you all. God Bless you and those who stayed here waiting. God Bless those who made the ultimate sacrifice and their families.

    • Rosalee Adams January 31, 2012 at 1:04 am

      I still recall what it was like going into town when I was stationed at NAS Alameda
      I finally asked my boss if I could take my private vehicle instead of the squadron car,
      well marked, as I was tired of nasty remarks and frankly feared that it might be vandalized. I was so thankful I lived aboard the air station and not in town.
      Much earlier when I was a child, dad was stationed at Bainbridge and we lived in Port Deposit (the south shall rise again) Maryland. The locals were hostile and let the Navy know they did NOT want Navy dependents to attend their schools.
      Mom said “it is as though they think of us as occupation forces, not US citizens”.
      I am tired of the military and vets having to extend OUR hands.
      Why don’t THEY do it for a change. Might be nice to see that.
      Finally, I have known some vets who have said the felt safer overseas than here, because they were among friends at least.

    • dc January 31, 2012 at 5:05 am

      To nam-vet6869 I very much appreciate you and your efforts and or out put. I have had many troubles finding employment and now I’m in debt n close to having to file for bankruptcy. I am a combat vet been home about a year and half now still no money no employment no nothing. Thanks

  33. Redhat January 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Time Bomb…Come on. Most of that stuff is data collected by volunteers and not verified as authentic. Recent survey on homeless in my city was collected by volunteers (college kids with clip boards) and just recorded what the homeless person told him…and that could have been anything…”I was a CEO, I was a Vet, I am Napoleon…” And on the 6 O’clock news…Napoleon is homeless. And a reading of “Stolen Valor” by B.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley will cause a questioning of many “war stories” plus military service and in-turn help weed out the phonies. And the other one-half of one percent that are ligitmate and qualifiy as “time bombs” many had dysfunctional lives before join the military.

  34. Ella Vesterbeck January 30, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I would have been more impressed with the article, especially since you are representing the Department of Veterans Affairs, if you had used spell check on it. I do agree that the media doesn’t get it and that they are using labels that are inappropriate to discribe veterans. Maybe you should ask: If we are all “ticking bombs” then why haven’t the WWII and Korea veterans already gone off?

  35. Liz Grow January 30, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Great piece- as a community we must call out such irresponsible and exploitive media practices and come together to help affected vets. Well done!

  36. Felix Haynes January 30, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    As I Vietnam veteran who has had good success in my postwar civilian career, I am so sad that we even have to deal with this. Here we go again! I strongly believe that one reason we are seeing this again is because such a small percentage of Americans now have actually worn the uniform. They don’t know what we’ve been through. They don’t know about the large number of veterans who come back home, blend back into the civilian world, and make good successes of themselves. To all the current veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, we stand with you as you deal with this same old canard with which we were faced.

  37. Byrdman January 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    It’s funny when we see articles like this ” Vets are ticking time Bombs” . Every police force has about 10% of War Veterans or military services connected employees. Even civilian police have issues with PSTD, with no military history. We target who we want too. The facts demographic are out there. Regardless of military or civilian if you suffer from PSTD, get help! Violent crimes are committ daily by civilians, gang members, hey and nut jobs. Then we single out Veterans who have difficulties in controlling stressful or depressing circumstance. Yes, they need help. Some don’t know they do but others are getting help. This article help us better understand that Vets are no different than anyone , except they served their country the best they could.

  38. Paul Fanning January 29, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    This was a great blog entry and so are the following comments. I retired from the Guard last summer and served in Afghanistan in 2008. I was the state public affairs officer for NY from 1998 to 2011.

    CNN did a great piece in 2009 about one of the men I served with in Afghanistan the year before. I provided my video of his Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device ceremony on Veterans Day in 2008. The ceremony was at our base and a year later this Iraq and Afghan vet was properly saluted for his service in valor in a nice profile. First Sergeant and now Command Sergeatn Major Jim Meltz was absolutley terrific and risked his life to protect his men following an ambush. He brought all of his troops safely home. His civilian job? — New York State Police and he is on the troopers’ version of SWAT and the CNN story included this.

    A really interesting future national story for USA Today might be to see just how many combat vets are presently serving in police departments nationwide and even on SWAT teams. The NYS Police sure trusts their combat-proven staff.

    Perhaps the paper may take that assignment on as penance.

    • Angie January 30, 2012 at 5:29 pm

      So true that police departments rely on military veterans. Maybe the military veterans and police having experienced the disruption of countries’ civilian life due to conflicts overseas do want to PREVENT such possibilities in their communities. Buildup of armament and skills are preventive measures that have a deterrent effect on extreme anti-social behaviors. Nationally our current leadership and MEDIA do not show any understanding of this effect of LACK OF DETERRENT MEASURES WILL ALLOW CIVIL DISTURBANCES and possibly WAR on our continent. And so the local police forces knowing that if the national leadership does not have a strong nationalistic deterrent policy in place, then conflicts that do and will occur will be their responsibility to control and they are preparing for that scenario.

    • John January 31, 2012 at 3:34 pm

      Jim Meltz is a great example! He and I were roommates at an NCOES course several years ago when he was an E6 and I was an E7. He was a fantastic Soldier, student and person. For the record, I’ve deployed to combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan and have been in law enforcement since 1985. No problems with most vets. The few that go sideways had issues before their service, in my opinion.

  39. Bob Mulholland January 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Let’s remember – the ones that drove this country into financial ruin, causing millions of Americans to lose their jobs and homes “work” on Wall Street and few are veterans. You can depend on veterans to serve our country and what company they are working for, post military service.

  40. Jeff Horton January 29, 2012 at 10:32 am

    It’s easy to see what’s happening here. The various police departments and associations across the country are ginning up yet another “crisis” in an attempt to justify more funding for their departments. They will happily claim to any reporter (no doubt egging them on in order to sensationalize the story) that there is a desperate need for more manpower, more new equipment, vehicles, guns, etc. to be able to handle this surge of murderous and dangerous Rambos coming out of the woodwork. Even a cursory look at the population of all veterans shows that only a tiny percentage of them have seen combat or were even assigned to combat units. I happen to know one Iraq combat vet pretty well; if I asked him if his 16 months of in-country experience with weapons and tactics would enable him to match up well with any police SWAT team or even a couple of ordinary cops, I’m sure his answer would be, “No.”

    • Charlie Self January 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      Cop shops all over the country have toys no one ever dreamed of being used in law enforcement until about a decade ago. Our relatively quiet county has a sheriff’s department that has a vehicle that borders on being a tank. As far as I know, it has just sat since being bought (almost surely with federal bucks) a decade or more ago. It’s something to have “just in case”. The bosses love this stuff, and keep the rank-and-file’s juices stirred with the possible need for SWAT incidents that never happen. Or, if they do happen, it’s because overly aggressive leaders allow their men to emulate them.

  41. Ben King January 29, 2012 at 10:28 am

    I experienced this yesterday during an employee meeting at a local non profit. The organization is applying for grants to help give veterans better access to wellness exercise. After the initial discussion about the grant, one of the instructors asked if there could be a policy that gave instructors a heads up ( a warning) before any veteran took a class. The leader blended with the question well and referenced how important it is to have good communications between staff, leadership, and teachers when dealing with clients of “significance”.

    I wasen’t too happy with this interaction. It was clear that all the people in the meeting felt wariness about dealing with large numbers of vets. I also got the sense that they were up to the challenge but there sentiment clearly reflects the narrative that motivated this article.

    When I returned from War in 07 I was treated with wariness by an academic institution, people who found out I was a warrior and some friends. I was a bit put off but once I got over it I realized that this was to be expected.

    It is my opinion that this should not be looked at as surprising or negative, in anyway. Of course civilians are going to be wary of us. Of course they are going to fear our potential. To fight this reality in public or in your mind is not useful.

    My advice to all veterans trying to transition back to civilian is to treat meeting new civilians the way you would treat a new unit you have become attached to. Proceed slowly, give them time to adjust to you, allow for inappropriate comments and body behaviors. Today’s civy is just as complex as today’s vet. Be patient with them and I promise they will be patient with you.

    • LordRussell January 30, 2012 at 4:31 pm

      That’s simply the way it’s going to have to be. Not only have warriors today become more than before and live by setting an example above that of a typical civilian, it seems that we are to continue it even after service.

      It doesn’t/won’t stop even after the uniform has been put away folks. It’s been 1o years for me. It still continues.

    • Larry February 2, 2012 at 5:34 am

      Very good response my friend.

  42. Troy Steward January 28, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Good job Alex. I just wrote a quick piece about this and pointed people to your entry here. Shame on the USA Today, but thanks to you for trying to correct it.

  43. Nick January 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Ticking Bombs?…….A label that does not belong to America’s veterans. Perhaps the writer from the story should himself be exposed to the trauma’s of war….or has he….Don’t know if he did….but that label still don’t fit. As a returnung Vietnam Veteran, being thrust back into civilian life so quickly after seeing combat, is the underlying problem. For many, a period of adjustment is and should be mandatory. I can remember the anger I had toward many civilians, and had a very difficult time trying to understand why they didn’t understand how returning vets feel. It wasn’t until I understood why they didn’t understand, that I was able to at the very least focus that anger toward a positive understsanding. Some returning veterans are on the edge. But I doubt that is the sterotype. Most are strong, courageous, able to adjust and understand the likes of the writer from USA today. Imagine if the students who were at the Columbine Massacre, were asked to clean up the blood and gore, put their friends in body bags, then go out and do the same thing tomorrow? How much and how many would be able to handle that. PTSD is a real problem, but has to be addressed immediately upon returning home. Perhaps that is where we are failing our Vets today. No, I correct myself…That IS where we are failing. More needs to be done to rehabilitate our soldiers so they can understand what writers like that don’t understand. Coping with civilian life after war is not easy. It takes time and a period of adjustment. And more importantly, the attitude the media has toward our Vets.

  44. Andrew Heil January 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Hello, I read the headlines, of course I am retired as of 1 Feb 2011. The military ensures each soldier protects this nation, the constitution, and their communities. Each soldier and their family have different situations, some not so extreme others, like my family, extreme. When a soldier feels their lively hood, property, family is in danger, of course they will react. Some through correspondence, some through face to face, others well loose it and get in trouble by the law.

    Since my retirement, my financial situation became overwhelming. My V A Claim, I was told would e completed prior to my retirement or the day of, which did not happen. For those of us who pay child support, are current and request a reduction to meet the current income and nothing is done, well that’s another issue. I contact the AG’s office while on active duty supplying them with the new payment I will be receiving on 1 Feb 2011. They did not act on it so 50% of my retirement is going to child support, leaving my with close to $900.00 a month. And when they finally acted on the reduction, the first hearing was 23 Aug 2011, then rescheduled to 21 Nov 2011. The reduction was made affective 1 Dec 2011, somehow not retroactive to my retirement date. Now I find out DFAS did not receive the court order and for Dec 2011, Jan and Feb 2012, they are still taking 50% of my retirement.

    So with the bankruptcy, our vehicles were repossessed, the house is pending foreclosure, our home life is stressed to the max. Just because I was told something and they did not follow through, causing my family to suffer.

    • Ben Miller January 30, 2012 at 8:43 pm

      Get the DAV or on of the service organizations to represent you for your VA disability claim. Ask to expedite for hardship and explain why. If that doesn’t work call your congressman.

      • John January 31, 2012 at 3:26 pm

        I contacted my Congressman more than two months ago for assistance with a VA claim that has been languishing for over two years! No joy…contacting your Congressman is hopeless. Northern Calif = Congressman Mike Thompson, who happens to be one of us, too.

    • Kevin Collier January 31, 2012 at 2:05 am

      I read your response tonight and hope that you will reply to my email. I’m a prior military combat veteran and understand your frustration with the entire situation. I work as a Veteran Advocate for the Dept of Veteran Affairs and about 90% of all the work that I do is outreach to provide resources for veterans like yourself in need of some assistance.
      Please contact me at my email; kevin.collier@va.gov or on my mobile at (210)771-5078.
      Thank you for your service.
      Kevin Collier

      • Larry February 2, 2012 at 5:37 am

        Thanks Kevin for your response in this situation.
        We need a lot more people like you.

  45. SLM January 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Made up stats to justify new toys for SWAT (and contractors).

  46. Maggie Goff January 28, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Thank you so much for this article, Alex. I am saving it to my hard drive so when I get remarks from friends and others about this topic, I’ll be able to just email this to them rather than trying to refute their misconceptions on my own. Thank you again.

  47. Jack January 28, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Most military men and women serve under the premise of preservation of our nation, our constitution, our Freedom, and our way of life. For these purposes they make great sacrifices. For example, they don’t enjoy as many Freedoms as private citizens while serving, are expected to give their lives if necessary for the country and/or others, and loose positioning in the civilian career realm if they choose not to pursue lifetime military service….just to name three.

    Many fanatical interests take a world or global view, which alienates patriotism and loyalty to one’s own. In pursuit of their goals/agendas they fear an awakening of American ex-military and patriots, so they are attempting to categorize those groups as potential domestic terriorists and the individuals as ticking time bombs. It gets really strange when you are considered politically incorrect because you care about your country, constitution, and fellow Americans…

  48. jim January 28, 2012 at 2:12 am

    You have written a truly great article. Lots of food for thought in bridging law enforcement, paramedical diplomacy, and veterans in all our communities.

    The press, mainstream, has a purpose, Vets defended by us constition ergo freedom of the press. Sometimes they get it right sometimes not.

    Police, crises intervention teams are coming to the tables, asking for civic engagements. More dialogs means solutions. One only has to see how long it took to advocate for Veteran treatment courts to show success.

    Keep the dialogs moving in cities.

  49. T J January 27, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    I was involved in an incident with the police down in Florida in which a friend requested a wellfare check becuase they hadn’t heard from me in awhile and couldn’t get ahold of me. Me being completely unaware was awakened by police trying to kick down my door. I was immediately tackled and cuffed and had my apartment searched and by a fully armed tactical team. Turns out that the police heard from my apartment manager that I was a veteran wich turned it from a wellfare check into me supposedly being heavily armed and possibly having explosives. Ithe funny part is I don’t even own a gun. After a lack of apologies I went back to bed. All this stemmed from the fact that I was a veteran, to winter park police that somehow turned into me being a heavily armed lunatic.

    • nam-vet6869 January 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      So much for search warrant and probable cause. I guess the fact you were a Veteran was the probable cause? Sad, what happens if they kick my door down and I kill a couple with the 12 gauge sitting by my bed. The Marine in AZ did even point the gun at them and they over killed him. The Police need to back off some, they are ignoring the Constitution and our Rights more and more.

    • Tanantom January 31, 2012 at 3:55 pm

      T J, Suggestion, Hire a lawyer and sue the Winter Park police for intential affliction of emotional distress! They had absolutely no right to treat you that way!! They violated your constitutional rights. Let them tell it to a judge. If you win they’ll think twice about doing it to another Vet. You can thank that jerk janet napolatano for this kind of mindset.
      Welcome home and don’t let the bastards wear you down.

    • James February 1, 2012 at 9:45 am

      I would have a lawyer on the phone, lawsuits served to the apartment complex and city, and a pile of complaints to the police department. There’s no excuse for that kind of conduct.

  50. Jack January 27, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Great job, Alex. It’s sad that you should even have to go there. It seems like every time you or other writers try to combat this growing infection in the media, they go and one-up themselves. What’s next? “BREAKING NEWS: There’s a Veterans standing outside of your house with a shotgun, right now!”

    • Charlie Self January 30, 2012 at 4:17 pm

      The thing is, after WWII, when I was a kid, I remembered reading and hearing about the same thing. It doesn’t change. The big deal there seemed to be the problems some Marines had adjusting–at least that was what made the headlines. After Korea, the same thing, and, of course, after ‘Nam, even more.

      Of course, no one called combat vets “ticking bombs” back then, but there were a lot of headlines about “Ex-Marine Goes Berserk” and similar junk news.

      • Robert Eaves January 31, 2012 at 1:38 pm

        This seems to me just another attempt to blame crime by veterans as substantial although unsubstansiated and another way to move the American public to cause more cuts in veterans benefits. This is to include Cola’s, Tricare, qualified doctors and nurses at VA hospitals and to undercut and undermine all that was said would be given to us when we retired. I am a 100% service connected Army veteran who did not serve 20 years because I was injured during duty and could not serve 20 years. That is being held against me. I WAS in during VN AND volunteered. But what has it gotten me but sorrow, refused employment and the continued being looked down upon because of Viet Nam. Our politicians are now and have always been trying to find ways to cut our benefits and DO. When I volunteered I was told of all the benefits I would receive when I retired. But they are steadily depleted. If this is not a breach of contract, AND by OUR government, I don’t know what is. I am proud to have served my country but am embarassed by the acts of our Congress to demean and demoralize us even more. Just look at what Senator McCain wants to do to us and HE is a veteran. Why not? He is a Senator and gets his $165,000 salary and ALL benefits so why should he care about US.

        WE need to unite and tell this country and our representatives that THIS is enough and that we will NOT stand for it anymore. We have a large influence when it comes time to vote so PLEASE vote and get rid of the garbage in our government. Solidify and write ALL of Congress and the President and express your views and anger. I have.

      • Bob Cass February 7, 2012 at 5:45 pm

        In my opinion the degree of how many come out of this tainted is accountable with the winning of the conflict.It may reduce the numbers. Nothing is more disappointing than coming home knowing our Government, the people who sent us there, tied our hands. War is War. Let’s stop pussyfooting around and do what has to be done. At least these Veterans are called heroes. The first Bush went into Iraq, Kicked ass, left,and our guys and gals came home with a win. This Vietnam Veteran felt such a big weight drop off his shoulders only to have the son of the Bush 1 muck it all up for oil. Even Korea came to a better conclusion. So now we should just all tell the Government and all of the Military People who want to try out their toys, using Americas Best as pawns, should back off. Let the fighters fight not the politicians both Government and Military.

    • Patrick Sullivan January 30, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      This probably stems from the memo that was circulated a year or 2 ago (or maybe during the Bush regime) among law enforcement that lumped veterans in with the “Patiot Movement”, people with Ron Paul bumper stickers and lots of other possibly anti-establishment categories of people Homeland Security says are security risks (for the establishment).

      • Ryan January 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm

        The memo you mention came from the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, not President George Bush. The “ticking time bomb” analogy was perpetuated by the current administration’s Homeland Security Director. It should be no wonder the main stream media is running with it. Curiously enough Director Napolitano has also publicly stated that our Nation’s borders are secure; I guess in her eyes veterans pose a greater threat to the United States than people sneaking across the border.

      • dontgothere January 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm

        it was NOT during the bush administration. it was done by the missouri highway patrol and they categorized ALL military veterans as probably. potential terrorists. this “report” was done at the behest of the missouri governor and then submitted to the OBAMA DOJ and homeland security. it was bogus THEN and it REMAINS bogus.

      • Jon Hicks January 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm

        “or maybe during the Bush regime” one or two years ago, I’m pretty sure Obama was in office. And he was the one who bundled Veterans in a list of
        people of risk to the USA. Just like he bundled a 3.8% sales tax into the sale of all homes to become effective in 2013, after the elections this year.
        Yep, it’s in Obama care bill.

    • Lloyd January 31, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      USA Newspaper should do better research.
      Most Police Department seek out veteran to hire
      Hence the Police/SWAT team responding to the emergency may be a veteran.
      USA please conduct better research get your head out of the muddy waters.

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