Ledger-Enquirer | 04/09/2005 | Vets ripe for road rage

Road Rage:

A writer named Kaffie Sledge at the Columbus (Georgia) Ledger-Enquirer has a piece called "Vets Ripe for Road Rage." It quotes a reservist veteran of a "combat stress unit" who is a social worker in her civilian life.

"The road rage -- on some levels doesn't surprise me," she says. "Over there, the United States owns the roads. When we come in our Humvees, people pull over. It's like get out of our way or get run over . We go up on sidewalks. We squeeze between traffic. Police will halt traffic jams or whatever so that we can drive down the opposite side of the street. The concept is you never stop moving because it makes you a target.

"So, we drive fast, we drive wherever we want to whenever we want to, and there is really nobody there to challenge us. We will hit you, slam your vehicle or whatever.
A fair point: being in a combat zone is not like being in an area ruled by established law. It takes a while to "gear back" to civilian life. This is why the USMC has told veterans not to drive for thirty days after their return from Iraq. Mr. Snook was on the passenger side of the vehicle.

All that said, I strongly object to the reservist's closing comments:
"The Marine killed in Atlanta may have had road rage, or he may have had a personality disorder before he went to Iraq, and he came back and still had one."
There is no basis for this sort of speculation. Psychologists feel free to throw these kinds of damaging, libelous statements around after little or -- as in this case -- no actual experience with the person in question. Mr. Snook can suffer no further harm from these statements, but had he still been a sergeant of Marines, his career could be ended by such idle speculation. Even in the grave, his memory is slandered by it.

I've been critical of certain decisions the man made, in particular getting out of his car and getting in the face of another driver. Still, it's enough to say, "that was foolish, especially given the history of which he must have been aware," without having to suggest he was unfit for a service whose obligations he fulfilled honorably and well.

Psychology is poison, as the Hall has always held. I would appreciate it if its practitioners would not practice their necromancy so carelessly. The dead, and the living, deserve better.

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