Online readers comment on "Man on Fire," by Craig Malisow, January 17.
Take responsibility: It seems that Paul Miles's family diagnosed him with PTSD and no psychiatrists did. It also seems that he takes no responsibility for his actions. Because he took (was seeking) the plea agreement, it seems obvious that his roommate was telling the truth — or at least whatever he was saying could be substantiated. The prosecution wouldn't have been willing to take him to trial otherwise.
Comment by James
Iraq war veterans
The reference question: What does it matter if 38 friends and relatives say he's good? You can't even use friends and relatives for references to apply to McDonald's! Why do they think that it will work to get him out of jail for this? Shouldn't there be some sort of animal cruelty charge as well? With the way this country normally cares more about animals than people, you think that would be an issue, too. He got off lucky.
Comment by Bea Insidame
Treat the mentally ill: Paul was diagnosed with PTSD by the only psychiatrist he's been allowed to see. The government psychologist confirmed it. Attorney John Ratcliffe is being dishonest about the diagnosis.
The defense would not have been allowed to mention PTSD in a trial. The only defense allowed is insanity, i.e., the inability to know right from wrong. Since PTSD isn't insanity, the judge would rule it is inadmissible as evidence. In fact, we could not even have mentioned his war service. Once again, Ratcliffe is being dishonest.
For a few decades now, we've decided to imprison people with mental illness rather than treat them. The evidence is overwhelming that treating mental illness is more effective at preventing crime than prison is. It's also more cost-effective and more humane. In about a year, Crazy Carl and Paul will both be back on the streets. At that time, will you be glad they were further traumatized by prison, or do you think you'll wish they had received treatment?
Comment by Curtis Miles
Gee, thanks: Being a veteran of the Iraq war, I know the mental pain Sergeant Miles was going through. He needed help, but when no one reached out, he backed off and walked down that dark path some veterans have to walk. The fact that most of the people on here who have commented actually have no damn clue what they are saying just makes me proud to know that I served my country for a bunch of assholes. Thanks a million.
Comment by Randall
Epidemic on the way: Being out here in the middle of this situation, I can attest to America's impending mental health epidemic. Now, don't get me wrong, not everyone who came out here is going back like Miles, but one soldier in 100 seems about right. Doesn't sound like many till you realize we still have 150,000 troops out here.
That's a problem...a big one.
Comment by Daniel Green
The whole story is sad: The people who attack him and his family's actions through comments on this page are even sadder. I can't imagine the atrocities one has to face in combat — and don't think many other people that left comments can, either. The child needed, and still needs, psychiatric attention that wasn't properly administered or diagnosed by the very governmental branch that contributed to his psychosis. An entire generation of mentally and physically crippled Vietnam vets should have taught us a lesson that we cannot ignore, but we try to anyway because it's hard for us to sleep at night thinking about how many young men's lives we are destroying for an unnecessary war.
Well, it's hard for them to sleep at night, too.
Comment by morgan
Pay the price: The last two comments read like they were written by the same person — obviously a family member of this danger to society, Paul Miles. I'm sure the "soldier" in Mosul is a psychiatrist, and that's why he's able to attest to the epidemic. The soldier probably never finished high school. (In reality, the "soldier" is probably this guy's sister or mother.)
Look, people, stop trying to make the government the scapegoat here. Nobody cares that you failed your child. In fact, nobody even thinks that. He screwed up. It happens. He has to pay the price, and quite frankly, he got off pretty easy. Stop blaming the feds, because your son had every opportunity to seek help.
Your son was in a war zone and probably does have some PTSD. It would be impossible not to have it, but from all I've read about PTSD, it has never listed "growing pot and mushrooms, animal torture and blowing up statues" as symptoms. That is not what PTSD is, and besides, PTSD can't be used as a defense (as you've learned).
Comment by J.C.
Dirty deal: In response to J.C.'s assessment of me, I am not related to the Miles family; I do not know them, nor do I really want to. I'm an ex-soldier, not a soldier. I witnessed atrocities in another war-torn country back in 2000, and the things that people (both Christians and Muslims) do in the name of religion turned me into an atheist.
I'm not a shrink, just another contractor. But I have dealt with issues firsthand over here, from the soldier who shot a round through his own chin whom I found in 2005, to the private I spoke with last week who thought it looked "cool" when one of his fellow soldiers stepped on an IED and was vaporized into pink mist.
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J.C., you are probably correct in your assumptions of his family and him. Maybe he is a naturally mean person, but the issue I was trying to get across was that "Timmy," the little Circuit City clerk who was in the reserves and got sent to Iraq, may not come back the same young kid that left the surround sound department. He might look the same, but he will have changed, trust me.
If you'd like a firsthand look out here, jump on a plane. Just be careful — it's dirty out here and things go boom a lot.
Comment by Daniel G