The myth of the wacko-vet has been beloved of the left since Vietnam. A recent piece in the New York Times propagated the notion that vets are violent. John J. DiIulio reports on the report in the latest issue of the Weekly Standard:

“IN A PAGE-ONE STORY published Sunday, January 13, 2008, ‘Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles,’ the New York Times reported on homicides by veterans of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seven Times reporters contributed to the lengthy story, which was co-authored by Deborah Sontag and Lizette Alvarez.

“The Times ‘found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war.’ All but one case involved male veterans. They speculated that their research ‘most likely uncovered only the minimum number of such cases, given that not all killings’ were ‘reported publicly or in detail,’ and because ‘it was often not possible to determine the deployment history of other service members arrested on homicide charges.'”

The Times aces forgot to do one obvious thing, though: compare rates of vet violence with those of the general public. If you do this, you discover that vets are actually less violent than the public at large:

“And assuming 121 cases and 749,932 total discharges, the homicide offending rate for the discharged veterans would be 16.1 per 100,000. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has demographic data aplenty on homicide offending rates. For instance, in 2005, for white males aged 18-24, the rate was about 20 per 100,000. The Times opined that 121 was the “minimum” number, even as it counted veterans charged but not convicted with veterans tried and found guilty. Doubling the number to 242 would double the rate to 32.2 per 100,000. …

“The ‘Deadly Echoes’ story spotlighted an important issue and sensitively profiled several tragic incidents. In many respects it was a model piece of journalism. But, in such a lengthy report, the Times should have done more to put its 121 cases against a broader data backdrop or two, been clearer about what nobody really knows about the subject, and taken much greater care than it did to avoid echoing what the VFW, in a 2006 story referenced by the reporters, rightly rejected as the ‘wacko-vet’ myth.”