Expert: PTSD May Factor Into Case Against Accused Killer Of Afghan Civilians.

In continuing coverage, ABC World News (3/18, story 2, 1:55, Muir) broadcast that on Sunday night, attorneys for 38-year-old Sergeant Robert Bales, the US soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians, “are arriving at Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas and plan to meet with him face to face for the very first time.” ABC, which noted that Bales could be facing a lifetime prison sentence or the death penalty, showed military law expert Charles Gittens saying post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) “could be a mitigating circumstance that could cause a jury to determine that the death penalty is not appropriate” for Bales. ABC added, “Getting an acquittal by reason of insanity and blaming it on post-traumatic stress is almost unheard of in military court. But Bales has a creative, high-profile legal team and this will not likely be a typical case.”

Many Americans Seem WilIing To Believe There Is Explanation Behind Killings. An AP (3/19, Breed) story run by at least 250 publications reports that many Americans “seem willing to believe that a 10-year US military veteran, worn down by four tours of combat and perhaps suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, simply snapped. That somehow there must be, if not an excuse, at least an explanation” for why Bales may have killed 16 Afghan civilians.

Bloomberg News (3/19, Robison, Nash, Vekshin) notes that a US official “has said family stress and alcohol may have combined to prompt the shootings” that Bales is alleged to have committed. Bloomberg adds, “Friends, neighbors and experts in post-traumatic stress disorder contend that something else must have driven a man they know as unfailingly polite to such horrific acts.” And Harry Croft, MD, “a former Army doctor who has reviewed about 7,000 cases” of PTSD, said, “To kill innocent women and children indicates to me that something happened during these killings that was simply more than the product of PTSD.”

Rieckhoff Hopes Killings Will Lead To More Help For Vets Returning From War. During an appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press (3/18, 10:58 a.m. ET) Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Of America Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff said mental health problems and unemployment are two issues facing vets returning from war. He added, “This country has been disconnected at an unprecedented level.” And, Rieckhoff said, if the recent killing of 16 Afghan civilians forces the American public “to really take note of that and get involved and do something about it, well then that’s a good thing. Let’s have that conversation.”

Related Links:

— “Bales Faced Losing Houses as He Fought 6,700 Miles Away,”Peter Robison, Bloomberg, March 19, 2012.

Posted in In The News.