Soldiers > Blowback

From PTSD to Prison: Why Veterans Become Criminals

The Daily Beast

By Matthew Wolfe

July 28th 20134:45 AM


Nearly one in 10 inmates have served in the military. Matthew Wolfe on how the system fails them—and the new prison dorms that could help them get back on track.

  Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty

Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty

During the last year of his service contract with the Marine Reserves, Christopher Lee Boyd was sent to Iraq. Boyd was a driver in the Fourth Combat Engineer Battalion, Charlie Company, out of Lynchburg, Virginia. In Iraq, Boyd’s unit escorted convoys and swept for land mines. When Boyd drove, he watched the road for IEDs. The bombs could be disguised as almost anything; his team found them stashed in potholes, trash bags, and, once, in a dead sheep. In November 2004, Charlie Company was transferred to a base near Haditha. At the same time, 100 miles to the southeast, coalition forces were attacking Fallujah, an insurgent stronghold. As the insurgents fled the city, they flocked north.

In late January, Charlie Company received word that insurgent leaders were hiding in a house in a nearby town. A raid team, composed of 11 vehicles carrying 77 Marines, set off just after 3 a.m. on January 26, 2005. Boyd steered a Humvee carrying nine members of his unit. When the soldiers arrived at the house, they found its front door open and no one home. Except for a few pieces of furniture, the building was empty. As the convoy began rolling back to base, Marines dropped flyers reminding Iraqis to vote in the upcoming elections.