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The purpose of this study is to identify the relationships between military service and criminal behavior. Soldiers face various traumatic events throughout their deployment, which leads to the question of whether they return home more violent. This question has been answered with the help of analyzing the interviews of two different groups of soldiers, A group, which has not been deployed, and B group, which has been deployed. Also, a lot of attention has been paid to the analysis of appropriate professional literature. The different approaches have been considered. The following step was to see whether those approaches are applicable, checking them on practice, using instruments of statistical analysis.

The Invisible Wounds of War


Research conducted by the Army (2011) found that after more than ten years in the field, soldiers in the U.S. military become more prone to sexual violence, domestic abuse, and suicide. Violent sex crimes committed by active U.S. Army soldiers have almost doubled over the past five years, partially due to the trauma of of going through hostilities. It is statistically proven that in 2011 every six hours and 40 minutes one soldier committed a sex crime. Examining the relationship between military service and criminal behavior is quite instrumental in crime prevention strategies.

Usually, a war is associated with losses of humans’ life, material damages and negative financial outcomes. However, there are also a lot of the so-called invisible consequences of war. These consequences are related to influence of war on social and politic life of countries, and personal life of soldiers and other members and victims of war. For example, it is really difficult for a soldier to adapt to a post-war life. As a result, a lot of negative social outcomes occur. The task of this paper was to analyze the mentioned invisible wounds of war. Special attention will has been paid to correlation between war and the crime rate in society.

Literature Review

Throughout U.S. history, the military has played a significant role in the lives of a large proportion of the U.S. population. However, little research has focused on this topic, particularly in criminology. This study seeked to determine whether military service changes an individual's criminal behavior. To address these questions, the study used Wolfgang's 1945 Philadelphia birth cohort and Shannon's 1949 Racine, Wisconsin, birth cohort data sets. Results suggested that military service reduces consequent offending in general. However, there is no significant effect of the service on later violent behavior.

A lot of attention has been paid to the problems of war and its influence on society in relevant literature. One of such authors is an American novelist Tim O’Brien. He specializes in stories about the Vietnam War and, in particular, writes about its impact on the U.S. and global society. The central object of the stories is life of the American soldiers.

O’Brien has written more than ten novels on this subject. Among the most famous books the following ones can be pointed out: Northern Lights; July, July; In The Lake of The Woods; The Nuclear Age; The Things They Carried, etc. The author served in Vietnam, which means that his books and novels are based on personal memories and real facts. It forces researchers to argue whether the stories reflect reality or the author’s imagination. Paradoxically, the author only strengthens these controversies, for he believes that truth in literature has nothing to do with what actually happened.

The main topics of the books are bravery, effects of war and truth. O’Brien tries to describe the soldiers as courageous persons. However, one may think that he misunderstands this term, or, at least, his heroes use this term in some other way. For instance, brave actions are usually described as the attempts to look brave and not silly in the eyes of the other soldiers. Thus, it cannot be classified as bravery in its initial meaning.

Effects of the war are described in the book quite clearly, and not for the whole society, in general but relating a separate person, a separate soldier. The author tries to explain how the war may affect a human’s personality, physical and mental health, attitude to life and society, etc. This opinion can be proved by the following words:

Dave Jensen becomes unable to tell what is right and what is wrong. He has been fighting Vietnamese for so long that when he begins to fight with someone from his own side, he goes a little crazy. He thinks he has to make up for the way he hurt Lee Strunk, when even Strunk believes he had every right to hurt him (The things they carried summary).

Finally, the distinction between the truth and imagination is another integral feature of the book. One cannot be sure whether some action took place or a character really existed. Some stories look quite real, while the other ones are nothing more than fiction. One cannot be sure whether it is a historical book or not. Even the author himself maintains that there is a thin border between fact and fiction.

If readers want to find confirmation of some historical facts they should look for the additional informational sources. However, if they want to feel the atmosphere of the war and experience the feelings of the soldiers they should definitely read this particular book. One can even say that this book would become a great movie scenario. Moreover, it is very likely that this movie is going to be a box-office hit.

Among the authors who analyzed the problem under consideration the following ones may be pointed out: Terry Schell, Grant Marshall, Jeremy Miles, Lisa Jaycox, Gail Fisher, Terri Tanielian, etc. As it has already been mentioned, there are also a lot of professional reviews of the analyzed problem. For example, Center for Military Health Policy Research deals exclusively with this issue. The center aims to provide effective recommendations to solve the mental problems of soldiers. It issued a special report called Invisible Wounds of War Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery in 2008. The following problems were covered in the report: psychological problems of people who return from war, analysis of existing policies directed at solving the problem, economic evaluation of negative consequences of wars, etc. The most valuable aspect of the research is the fact that theoretical concepts are proved by real examples from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.   

This report is very comprehensive, since it combines the whole range of researches related to the problem under consideration. It even won some awards in 2008 as the best prose work on a specific theme. Some additional information about the work can be obtained from the following quote:

The work deserves our full attention as it delineates and explains the economic, human, medical, political, public health, and social consequences of injuries suffered by returning veterans of US involvement in 8 years of continuous conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq. The introduction defines the three kinds of invisible wounds affecting thousands of the 1.64 million American troops deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq) since 2001 (Literature annotations).

A notable fact is that the work classifies mental problems of ex-soldiers into three groups: post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression and traumatic brain injury. Therefore, there is comprehensive evidence that ex-soldiers really feel some mental and physical problems after a war. The task of the research will be to define the measure of effects of these disorders on social behavior of soldiers and society in general.

There is a lot of professional literature devoted to this problem. The authors generally divide the consequences of war into two groups, those of direct and indirect ones. The majority of researches are focused on the direct consequences of war. A smaller share is devoted to invisible outcomes. Authors are mainly interested in mental problems of soldiers, their inability to adapt to civil life and economic losses caused by war. However, a small number of works deal with integration of ex-soldiers into criminal life.

Little research has been carried out to examine the relationships between military service and criminal behavior, and the few studies that did included only a basic comparison of a group of soldiers who underwent military service and those who did not. This strategy fails to consider the way military experience may differ for various individuals. This study examines whether the relationship between military service and criminal behavior depends on socio-demographic characteristics. Results from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth suggest that during the first few years of the all-volunteer force some groups do appear to become involved in more violent offending after entering the military. The influence of military service on consequent offenses does appear to depend on individual characteristics. In addition, the time under analysis was unique in military history, and results may vary according to historical periods.

As it has been already mentioned, military service or a war may lead to significant physical and mental problems of a soldier. These problems affect social behavior of an ex-soldier. As a result, it is possible to say that military service and a war create a lot of social affects. A great share of literature is devoted to the social effects of a war and military service. For example, some authors analyzed such problem as a changing role of a women in a post-war society. When their men are on war, women are forced to handle the whole family life, etc. A significant attention is paid to the problem how particular countries and societies develop after a war. For instance, there is a whole discipline that learns how the World War II has changed the direction of development of the world. More specifically, a lot of authors consider such problem as adaptation of soldiers to a life after a war. The problem under consideration in our research is a part of this more general issue. In fact, we have said that difficult process of social adaptation may force ex-soldiers to a criminal behavior. The task was to analyze this possible correlation.

The problem under consideration is associated not only with social affects, but also with psychological issues. People are forced to criminal not only because of social difficulties. Post traumatic syndromes and other mental problems change their psychology. It makes them more aggressive and prone to a criminal behavior. This problem also occupies significant place in a related literature.

Majority of authors claims that a war is associated with violence. This violence very often becomes an integral part of life of a soldier. In order to survive you also have to be violent. Sometimes, this role is not forgotten after war is ended. This opinion can be proved by the following words.

Mike Sterba, a former medic during the Falklands conflict, has spent the last 20 years trying to cope with the severe depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) triggered by his experiences. Dedicated to saving lives, he operated on British and Argentinian soldiers, yet he watched 20 of his friends and fellow soldiers buried in a large communal pit following one of the most ferocious battles of the war at Goose Green. ‘I saw men as young as 18 and 19 zipped up in body bags, with gun shots wounds to the head, arms and legs blown away, brains spilling out on to stretchers (Psychological and social consequences of war).

After the war Mike had got an appropriate medical support and had managed to avoid serious problems and choice of a bad way in life. However, not every soldier is able to get such support. As a result, we are forced to talk about criminal behavior and other negative social consequences of a war and military service.

Considering literature review, one should also mention informational sources that have been used for the research. First of all, professional literature dealing with the influence of a war on society in general and life of separate people in particular was analyzed. Second of all, statistics about military campaigns and criminal statistics has been taken into consideration. It was important to find and evaluate a correlation between the mentioned factors. Third of all, it was essential to use appropriate psychological professional literature to define mental peculiarities characteristic to ex-soldiers. Besides, professional statistical databases and reviews have been used. Finally, one had to take into account the similar researches that have analyzed the problem under consideration.

Generally, after analysis of all professional and related literature, we have made the following conclusions. The problem under consideration has always been a popular subject in literature and professional research. A lot of attention has been paid to social and psychological effects of a war and military service on soldiers. However, correlation between military service and criminal behavior has been not researched good enough. That is why we have chosen this subject for analysis.


Literature review and appropriate databases are one of the most important preconditions for a successful essay. However, they would not be useful without effective methodology of the research. Simply speaking, methodology is a set of methods and instruments that are used to analyze the object of the research and reach its goals. That is why a researcher, first of all, should define the object of the research and its goals. The object of the paper was indirect consequences of war. More specifically, it is correlation between war and criminal behavior of soldiers.

Indirect consequences of a war are the outcomes which are not associated with direct losses of soldiers and civil citizens, material losses from military actions, changes in political and social environments of the hostile countries, etc. These consequences are usually associated with influence on national and personal mentality, behavior of people after the war and long-term social consequences for a country.

The goals of the research were the following:

  1. To define the main invisible consequences of war for societies;
  2. To determine the way war may influence further life of a simple soldier and his/her family;
  3. To analyze correlation between military actions and the degree of crime in a country;
  4. To prove all the theoretical concepts by real examples;
  5. To provide recommendations on avoiding negative post-war syndromes.

Generally, the research was based on logical inductions and deductions. A lot of attention has been paid to historical method. Historical examples were found to facilitate the understanding of analyzed connections. The other tool that was useful in this context was statistical analysis. Generally, there was a need to evaluate the degree of inclusion of ex-soldiers in criminal life and consider whether it was related to their past. One more important group of instruments was targeted on obtaining information. Simple informational analysis was the major method. Besides, it was useful to use questionnaires and interviews to obtain information directly from participants of the analyzed accidents.

Generally, two approaches to analysis of the problem under consideration have been used. On the one hand, we analyzed theoretical concepts and existing theories. It has been done via mentioned methods. On the other hand, we checked these theoretical concepts via such instruments as questionnaires and interviews.

Among the questions in the questionnaires the following ones have been presented:

  1. Do you have some complaints about the state of your physical and mental health after military service?
  2. What is the character of these complaints?
  3. Do you have some criminal experience?
  4. What has pushed you to a criminal way?
  5. Do you relate it to your military past or social conditions?
  6. What could be done to prevent you from a crime?

Therefore, we can say that our research has demonstrated both types of character – quantitative and qualitative. We have got required data from the respondents and then analyze them, using provided theoretical concepts and mechanisms. In the end, we had to prove correlation between military service and criminal behavior.

The research has been conducted through structural interviews, secondary sources, and surveys. The respondents have been determined through random sampling. We have not limited the research area with some particular city. Generally, the respondents from the whole country have been used in the research. It has become possible because of usage of Internet. We have used e-mails to send questionnaires to two groups of respondents and professionals in the area. Answers have been also got via e-mail.

The results of the research have been presented in the form of statistical tables, where correlation between military service and criminal behavior was presented. The tables were supported with explanation and recommendation how the problem may be solved. It has been since the main goal of the research paper is to provide recommendation how to improve life of soldiers after military services.

Research Questions and Hypothesis

The chosen research questions required validation of two major factors with further linking those factors together. At this point, the literature review conducted above has resulted in the creation of interlinked logical assumptions and propositions. For instance, it has been established that there is a link between military service and criminal behavior but it is not clearly understood. Additionally, it has been assumed that prior service and many other factors play a certain role in this relationship, but the extent of this relationship needs to be established. Therefore, it is essential that the report clearly defines the best indicators of the variables. Consequently, measuring these major concepts is the major challenge when trying to construct the research questions (Babbie, 2005).

There is a statement proved by a range of comprehensive researches that a great share of soldiers suffers from particular mental disorders due to participation in wars. There are no grounds to doubt this information. The task of the research was to imply definition of the way these disorders may affect social behavior of soldiers. Generally, the problem can be divided into two groups. On the one hand, there is a soldier with his/her problems who chooses a wrong path in life due to some circumstances. As a result, he/she may become a criminal or demonstrate other negative aspects of personality. On the other hand, every man is a cell of society, which is the reason why behavior of one soldier is able to affect the whole society. Among the others, it is very important to define possible negative influences, which should become one of the objectives of the research paper.

In 1945, two atomic bombs were used by the USA against two different cities of Japan in order to cease hostilities and take advantage of the WWII. They have killed more than 140 thousand people with the initial detonations. Much more people died in the aftermath because of radiation and other injuries. It also caused some psychological problems for Japanese people and provided a foundation for the use of such kind of weapon facilitating violence in the world. Thus, despite ending the war it provided a lot of facts proving that America was not justified to use atomic bombs in this war.

First of all, this weapon was used against the innocent people, against civil citizens. Despite the military functions and objective of this weapon, such implementation is an unacceptable practice in the civil society. It was a crime against mankind. Indeed, it harmed the civilized world. Unlike other kinds of weapon that can be used directly on military targets, destructive effects of atomic weapon cannot be controlled. It also injures social and productive infrastructure, cultural and religious objects, historical places, etc. The outcomes of using weapon of mass destruction cannot be overcome for years, and they are probably still felt in Japan.

Second of all, America violated the international laws that forbid the use of such kind of weapon. The situation provided a precedent, and it was in sharp contradiction with the mission of the USA against the use of atomic weapon. After that such methods were forbidden in the USA for the subsequent six decades. It is obvious that a country opposing to the use of weapon of mass destruction cannot use it itself. It should become a lesson for the rest of the world. Now the country adheres to a reasonable policy in this sphere, but there can be no guarantees of its maintaining. Probably, this incident provoked further development of the atomic weapon in the world contributing to the spread of terrorism.

The third argument supports an idea that it was a crime not against the regime or government or even the civil citizens but against the whole nation. That attack did not only harm the aggressive regime but also the whole nation. A proof of it is the fact that the outcomes of it are still felt by the Japanese. It has obviously damaged the national consciousness of Japan. On the one hand, the country still feels guilty for its aggressive position in the WWII. On the other hand, atomic attack was a great insult on multiple levels.

And the final argument implies that it was a crime against the nature, ecology and, as a result, the whole mankind, including the USA. America attacked not only Japan but the world’s community. Ironically, the USA provoked some negative outcomes for itself. The harm inflicted on the nature can last for hundreds of years. It is unacceptable taking into account the modern conception of sustained ecological development of the world. Such effects can be fatal for the future of the whole mankind.

Therefore, it can be concluded that war has a strong negative influence on the society. Moreover, it is essential to analyze each war and its consequences in particular. It is not the main subject of the research which mainly focuses on post war behavior and life of soldiers. There is a widespread opinion maintaining that ex-soldiers are not inclined to commit crimes. The main task of the research is to consider this thesis. As a result, the work will combine elements of psychological and statistical analysis.

Now it is time to define the main research hypothesis. For the given research, it maintains that military actions lead to significant mental problems of a great share of soldiers. These mental disorders are able to affect their social behavior. They may become dangerous for society, since they are often connected with criminal actions. That is why it is very important to adopt and implement appropriate social policy that will minimize post-traumatic syndrome and ease the adaptation of soldiers to normal life.

Taking into accounts the results of literature review, methodology that has been accepted, goals of the research, the research questions have been the following:

  1. Whether a war and military service are able to affect physical and mental health of soldiers?
  2. Whether such affection has significant social consequences?
  3. Is there correlation between military service and criminal behavior of ex-soldiers?
  4. What are the main reasons for such correlation, if any?
  5. What can be done to solve the problem under consideration?

Expected Results and Conclusions

The results have revealed a strong correlation between military service and criminal behavior, but not suggesting that every soldier is a criminal. War affects all soldiers differently, and including different factors into each individual’s life should show that not every participant will be affected in the same way. Generally, the research was aimed to prove that post-traumatic syndrome creates certain preconditions for criminal life of soldiers. The degree of correlation was unlikely to be close to one; however, the relation is strong enough.

Nevertheless, finding evidences of such connection was not determinative for the given paper. The final goal was to define the reasons for criminal behavior of soldiers. When the reasons are identified, it is possible to recommend certain policies which should eliminate or, at least, minimize the problem. The main reasons are the following: mental problems caused by physical and mental diseases, difficulties in the process of adaption to life after war, inability to find an appropriate job after discharge, lack of appropriate support from the government and NGOs, etc.

Another important result is connection between the research and people’s actual lives after the military service. If they find out some new information and pass it to someone else, there is a possibility to reach out to someone who actually needs help. Everyone who lost family members generations ago due to military operations can discover new facts. One of the ultimate objectives of the research is to capture a fragment of international history that is usually overlooked and ensure that those lives taken by the war or criminal activity of the discharged soldiers are not forgotten.

Thus, the main goal of the research was not limited to elaboration of theoretical concepts and conclusions. The main objective was to provide certain practical recommendations on solving the existing problem. These recommendations must be used by governments at all levels. Moreover, they may be used by special NGOs. Generally, every person and, especially, relatives of soldiers should resort to the provided recommendations. Everyone bears responsibility for people who fight for the interests of a certain country in different wars.

Undoubtedly, these recommendations should have a specific character

It has earlier been mentioned that military service may lead to significant mental and physical disorders. There are a lot of tools and policies that should solve the problem. Recommendation provided in the present paper must be focused on the task to prevent ex-soldiers from a criminal way of life. The following recommendations can be expected based on previous researches:

The keenest attention should be paid to treatment of post-traumatic syndrome and other mental disorders emerging after participating in a war;

The easiest way of adaptation to a normal civil life should be offered to soldiers. For example, one can recommend creating favorable working conditions for soldiers;

The government, NGOs and common people should take care not only of currently serving soldiers, but also of veterans;

Ex-soldiers should be monitored and supported for a certain period after the end of the war in order to prevent them from negative social actions.

Generally, the major recommendation on preventing soldiers from criminal actions would be ceasing any hostilities. Relations between countries are very complicated, and sometimes it is very difficult to avoid military actions. However, a lot of wars were started for unjustified reasons. Such wars should have been avoided in order to prevent soldiers from undesirable consequences.

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