Veteran and Military Criminal Justice Involvement: Pathways to Offending
Smith, Wesley Thomas
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Since the onset of the Second World War, there has been a steady if not modest body of research focused on veterans and the criminal justice system. Over the last two decades and shortly after the start of the Global War on Terror, this research has largely become oriented around two perspectives. First, the Violent Veteran Model posits that learned behavior in the military, namely, combat, influences subsequent offending and is responsible for disparate involvement in violent crime among veterans. Second, the Self Medication Hypothesis has been adapted to suggest that the trauma of combat among veterans leads to mental health issues which are then followed by substance use and other associated types of offending. As of yet, there have been no attempts to unify these two models. Additionally, important factors such as the length of time deployed overseas are often omitted from empirical tests of either model. Despite these paradigms being present in veteran research for the better part of 50 years, there is little consensus as to why veterans engage in crime within the broader literature. Considering this, there is a demonstrated need to revisit both the Self Medication Hypothesis and Violent Veteran Model in order to form a more holistic picture of the etiology of veteran offending. The current study provides a framework for the Deployment Offending Nexus for veterans. This is accomplished through the establishment of a novel sample of veterans via social media using chain-referral sampling. Then, Ordinary Least Squares regression and structural equation modeling are used to validate the unified model. Despite general support for a unified model, findings suggested that the effect of military service-related factors on subsequent offending were moderate at best. As a result, the current project demonstrates the potential need for a holistic model of veteran offending which is inclusive of factors outside of the purview of deployments and combat. Additional, supplementary findings suggest the need for expanded aftercare services for combat veterans.