Why The “American Sniper” Murder Trial Could Slow Vets Hiring, But Shouldn’t

Bradley Fighting Vehicle
Bradley Fighting Vehicle

The trial of accused ‘American Sniper‘ killer Eddie Ray Routh may make Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) the new excuse de jour for employers to turn their backs on veterans hiring — as if it weren’t hard enough already to make them see the value former sevice members bring to an organization.

Articles like the LA Times recent story, “‘American Sniper’ Trial Raises Questions About Veterans, PTSD and Firearms” by Molly Hennessy-Fisk, which examines why hunting, firearms, and PTSD might be a bad mix, yet forgets to mention recent studies suggesting only about seven percent of all veterans suffer from the disorder– only serves to sensitize employers to a problem that isn’t nearly as bad as this story or popular culture would have us believe.

A parade of TV action shows, portrays returning veterans as short-fused time bombs, with lethal skills, honed in hand-to-hand sawdust pits, where everyone is a knife wielding expert regardless of whether they were a ranger, truck driver, computer operator, supply clerk, or an accountant.

Yup! Everyone is a steely-eyed killer — just waiting for the right “Manchurian Candidate” stimulus to spring into action.

Thankfully, the truth is much less dramatic and scary. PTSD affects fewer than 300,000 veterans. And the severity is no worse than that experienced by the 7.7 million civilians also hampered with the disorder.

Few veterans – like the ones Hennessy-Fiskshe describes for her firearms story – sit in restaurants with shaking hands, only calmed after a day of hunting deer or antelope.

With stories like this, employers are going to double check every veteran’s resumes, looking for blood smudges or powder burns. They may even bring in special dogs to run every resume through a Cordite test.

Probably a better story to put PTSD into perspective is a Fortune article from November 2013 entitled “3 Reasons Why Companies Don’t Hire Veterans.” This one takes a more sober look at the topic and how it relates to employment

This is not to make light or minimize the impact PTSD has on its sufferers, but employers need to know hiring veterans is a no more risky than hiring anyone else, and is a great deal more likely to make the employer a lot of money.


6 thoughts on “Why The “American Sniper” Murder Trial Could Slow Vets Hiring, But Shouldn’t

  1. PTSD affects everyone who has ever seen combat. Not every case is equal but to pretend that it isn’t underreported does no favors for our vets. Instead of trying to downplay PTSD, we should want to highlight those who have been successful in over coming it. Show employers that PTSD isn’t always a liability, and that violence by PTSD sufferers is rare.


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