Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder & the Military Justice System

41 Pages Posted: 13 May 2009 Last revised: 18 May 2009

See all articles by Peyton Cooke

Peyton Cooke

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: May 13, 2009


This article, in the main, addresses how the Military Justice system deals -- and ought to deal -- with military members who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and commit crimes. It begins with a thorough overview of PTSD in the current military, and then moves on to analyze the topic through three particular lenses: punishing versus treating military members who suffer from PTSD in light of Retributivst theory; psychotherapist-patient privilege in the military as affected by the recent restructuring of military psychiatry; and how military courts’ own oft-ignored tradition of rights protection affects these issues. The paper concludes provisionally that, due to the nature of military society, the military must both punish and treat its members who commit crimes in order to have the best chance of reintegrating those members into the community; and that, while Department of Defense directives and other military law has arguably eliminated the psychotherapist-patient privilege in the military, military courts have an opportunity to restore and maintain the privilege in light of those courts’ tradition of protecting the interests and rights of military members.

Keywords: Military justice, psychiatry, psychotherapist-patient privilege, retributivism, military courts, military deference doctrine, post-traumatic stress disorder, rights of military members

Suggested Citation

Cooke, Peyton, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder & the Military Justice System (May 13, 2009). Mississippi Law Journal, Vol. 79, No. 3, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Peyton Cooke (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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