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Don’t blame PTSD for Thousand Oaks shooting, experts say  2 Months ago

Source:   USA Today  

WASHINGTON – Authorities said the Marine Corps veteran accused of gunning down 12 people in California on Wednesday had previously exhibited erratic behavior suggestive of post-traumatic stress disorder, but experts say his actions should not be blamed on PTSD.

Ian David Long, 28, is accused of killing 12 people in a country bar in Thousand Oaks, about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

“It’s not PTSD,” said Barbara Olasov Rothbaum, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and director of the Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program at Emory University School of Medicine. “This is whatever else, what other pathology would cause someone to do this.”

Long was a machine gunner who deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and was stationed in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, when he left the military in 2011, the Marine Corps said. During his service, he received a Marine Good Conduct Medal and three Navy commendations.

Between 11 and 20 percent of veterans who served in Afghanistan or Iraq have post-traumatic stress disorder in a given year, VA researchers have said.

VA spokesman Curt Cashour told USA TODAY on Thursday that Long was “not enrolled in VA health care at any time.”

He was described by some as a loner Thursday, according to neighbors and others who reported strange noises coming from the house where he lived with his mother, and law enforcement officials said they had periodic contact with Long over the years. Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said deputies responding to a domestic dispute at his home found he was "somewhat irate and acting irrationally."

Rothbaum said in cases where veterans are suffering from PTSD, there can be “irritability and aggression” but nothing that would account for murder.

“I get upset when people get scared of veterans with PTSD because they think they are going to be violent, and they’re not,” she said.

“There is already so much stigma involved in PTSD in general – and certainly in veterans and military service members – that anything else that adds to the stigma would do them a disservice.”

 

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