03 December 2009

Supreme Court Supports Veteran PTSD Defenses

/PRNewswire/ -- On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the sentencing decision of a Korean War Veteran convicted of murder should have taken into consideration Post Traumatic Stress he incurred during the war.

This decision comes after a recent jury decision in Oregon where Jesse Bratcher, an Iraqi War Veteran on trial for murder, was found insane due to PTSD. This was the first U.S. murder case where combat PTSD influenced a jury's verdict.

"These recent legal decisions," said National Veterans Foundation (NVF) President Shad Meshad, "are very significant as more Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans, with no prior history of criminal behavior, are coming home to inadequate transitional services, and are ending up in jail, accused of crimes."

"The Supreme Court decision basically says that attorneys of clients facing the death penalty must present evidence of PTSD from military service in their defense," said Meshad.

Meshad consulted on the defense of the Bratcher and on a new book--Veterans in the Justice System: a manual for the legal professional. D.C. Press will publish the book, co-authored by William Brown PhD, next May.

Meshad began assisting Vietnam Veterans who were getting into legal trouble in the seventies. "I see so many of the same patterns repeating," said Meshad. "War experiences and a lack of help transitioning to civilian life ended with many Vietnam Veterans in jail. Soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan have more resources and more support from the public, but it is still not enough. I fear we are going to see many more of these cases popping up all over the country."

Meshad is one of the nation's leading experts on PTSD treatment. A licensed therapist who began working with soldiers as Psych Officer in the Vietnam War, Meshad Founded the National Veterans Foundation in 1985 to provide crisis counseling and transitional resources to soldiers and Veterans.

The National Veterans Foundation launches a new Web page today as a resource to Veterans who are in need of legal assistance at www.nvflegal.org. NFV will include links to organizations and attorneys who specialize in defending former soldiers, frequently asked questions, news about Veteran legal cases, information about representation on claims appeal, email legal advice, pro-bono representation and other resources.

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