For years, there have been stories about military veterans coming home from war and committing criminal acts. Often times, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is brought up as a defense. There's no proof the disorder is a factor in crimes, but some believe the issue should be taken more seriously.
It was Eric Campbell's childhood dream to become a hero and fight for our country. In 2003, the Kingsburg marine spent eight months on the battlefield in Iraq, along the way witnessing the horrifying realities of war.
Marine Veteran Eric Campbell says, "When you're in a mission, on task, you can't have emotion in there. If you do then you're gonna die, you have to shut all that off. We reverted back to all the training we did beforehand."
Campbell was deployed to Iraq again in 2006. In between tours, he was diagnosed with PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"I could be sitting in my house and going to a flashback and I could feel the heat, I could see the desert. I could smell the water from the Tigris, exactly like I was there. My own mom made a comment... Who are you? I don't know you."
According to the Veteran's Administration Hospital, up to 20% of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are diagnosed with PTSD.
Dejon Baskin joined the Marines just days after the 9/11 attacks. He was deployed to the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two months ago, the Reedley man was found guilty of trying to kill his wife, his mother in law, and his brother in law.
Baskin's attorney tried to use PTSD as a defense.
Defense Attorney Eric Schweitzer says, "Mr. Baskin reported suffering a blackout, a partial blackout which is entirely consistent with PTSD. I don't see somebody that chose to commit a crime, because I know the person didn't choose to do that."
The defense however, didn't hold up in court.
"I'm perplexed at the civilian population's ignorance of the signs and symptoms of PTSD and other war syndromes. They've been re-wired, they've been re-trained, they've given up their civilian personas so that you and I can enjoy freedom and you bet we treat them differently," says Schweitzer.
Eric Campbell knows firsthand the affects of war. He says PTSD may not justify a criminal act, but feels it can offer an explanation.
"I can relate to how he felt, his thought process, the whole nine yards. But, I went and got help," says Campbell.
VA Hospital Psychologist, Anne Mckee says, "There's a very small percentage of veterans with PTSD that commit crimes. The vast majority, over 98% and greater, never commit any crimes."
Mckee says most of the soldiers suffering from PTSD learn to live healthy, normal lives.
"We actually work through the details of their trauma in a way that helps them let go of them, so they don't continue to be haunted."
Like millions of service men and women, Eric Campbell says a part of himself was left on the battlefield.
"It was like somebody reaching inside and just punching a hole in you and you can't ever fill that hole, so you feel hollow."
And though the scars of these invisible wounds may never fade, he's learned the tools to fight for his own freedom, just like he fought for his country's.