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Post–September 11 War Deployments and Crime among Veterans

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This study examines the impact of post–September 11 (post-9/11) combat deployments on crime among veterans. We exploit the administrative procedures by which US armed forces senior commanders conditionally randomly assign active-duty servicemen to overseas deployments to estimate the causal impact of modern warfare on crime. Using data from two national surveys and a unified framework, we find that post-9/11 combat deployments substantially increase the probability of crime commission among veterans. Combat exposure increases the likelihood of gang membership, trouble with the police, punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, property crime, and violent crime.

[P]eople in war had so inured themselves to corrupt and wicked manners, that they had taken a delight and pleasure in robbing and stealing; that through manslaughter they had gathered boldness to mischief; that their laws were had in contempt, and nothing set by or regarded. (More [1516] , p. 45)The [unit’s] soldiers who survived all exhibited signs of posttraumatic stress disorder and other psychological conditions. Twelve of them have been arrested for murder or attempted murder. (Woodward v. Alabama, 134 S. Ct. 405, 412n7 [2013] [Sotomayor, J., dissenting])

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