Did Soldier’s Brain Injury Spark Afghanistan Rampage?

20 Mar 2012

Questions about the mental health of the soldier accused of killing 16 civilians, including women and children, during a shooting and stabbing rampage in Afghanistan are beginning to emerge. According to lawyers for the soldier, he had suffered a brain injury during an early deployment to Iraq.

It's not clear at this moment, just how far this brain injury defense is going to take this soldier. It wouldn't be the first time that veterans who have suffered brain injury in the battlefield, have been involved in assaults and other incidents of violence, and also not the first time that brain injury will be used as part of the defense in such cases.

There is little information about the soldier who was involved in the attack. All that California veterans benefits lawyers know is that he's a 38-year-old staff sergeant from the Lewis-McChord base in the US State of Washington. He is the father of 2. His lawyers say that he had suffered a traumatic brain injury during a deployment to Iraq in 2010.

Aggression has been linked to traumatic brain injury for a while. Several studies also indicate that people who have a predisposition to depression, and hostility are more likely to suffer from aggression-related behaviors after a traumatic brain injury.

In veterans, the risks of aggression after a brain injury may be even higher, because of a number of other factors. Veterans may be more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which is also linked to aggression. Additionally, veterans are also likely to have the tools necessary to carry out attacks. For instance, they may have access to guns, and may have knowledge of how to use these weapons. Veterans who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder are also at a higher risk of substance abuse and alcohol abuse, which are also predictors of violent behavior.