PTSD at issue for veteran accused of murder attempt

Colorado Gazette

PTSD at issue for veteran accused of murder attempt

An ex-Fort Carson sniper appears prison bound after shooting a man in the hand during what supporters call a “dissociative state” triggered by combat stress.

Advocates for 27-year-old former Staff Sgt. Cory Griffin are mounting a last-ditch effort to get him into a special treatment program before a sentencing scheduled for Wednesday.

Short of an 11th hour intervention, Griffin faces 5 to 16 years of mandatory prison under a March guilty plea to second-degree assault – a deal that Griffin took to avoid going to trial on a second-degree murder charge with the potential for 40-years in prison.

“It’s disgusting – this kid gave his health to this country,” said Robert Alvarez, a former counselor at Fort Carson who now works as an investigator for USJAG, a nonprofit that advocates across the country for soldiers suffering post-traumatic syndrome.

Griffin, who has no prior convictions, is a two-time combat veteran who reports he was directly hit by improvised explosive devices three times in 2009 while patrolling Sadr City, Iraq, in an armored vehicle. He later served in Afghanistan and left the Army with traumatic brain injury and PTSD, which he had minimized when hoping to join the Army’s Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets.

Alvarez, fellow Army colleagues and several psychologists call him the victim of “overcharging” by prosecutors and a dismissive attitude toward PTSD.

“The only crime of violence being perpetrated here is the one against Cory Griffin,” said Miriam Blum, a 41-year psychologist who has diagnosed Griffin as suffering from dissociative episodes, or periods during which he blacks out from trauma.

Blum, who has treated Griffin since shortly after his Nov. 10, 2014 arrest, said that while PTSD is relatively common, only a tiny percentage of the 1,300 veterans she has seen since the September 2001 terrorist attacks suffer from similar blackouts. Read More

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