Sergeant Smith, now 25, is in prison, and a trial is still more than a year off, but this may emerge as the pre-eminent American case exploring whether soldiers’ brain injuries and trauma overseas can lead to crimes committed later. The basic question is whether Ms. Lee, as she walked her dog on a quiet street here, became an indirect casualty of our foreign wars.
About half a million American soldiers have suffered from brain-rattling concussions in Afghanistan or Iraq, and one result is an epidemic of traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. We’re seeing many more suicides among recent veterans than among earlier generations, probably because of repeated, extended deployments in combat, coupled with an increase in improvised explosive devices and concussions.
We still aren’t doing nearly enough to provide timely mental health services for these soldiers and veterans.