Veterans speak out on Walsh's PTSD statements


MISSOULA, Mont. - Veterans around Montana have mixed reactions to Sen. John Walsh's previous statement that PTSD may have been a potential factor in a situation some call plagiarism.

An apparent instance of plagiarism in a U.S. Army War College thesis paper was first reported by the New York Times.

Walsh later told Associated Press reporters, "I don't want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor."

The allegations are currently being investigated by the War College.

Meanwhile, one veteran tells NBC Montana he thinks PTSD could be a legitimate factor that could lead to plagiarism.

Roy Savage, of Missoula, tells NBC Montana he has seen studies that show many college students admit to plagiarism. He says he understands how suffering through PTSD symptoms could cause a host of problems that could lead to an instance of plagiarism.

"Feelings of isolation and loneliness can lead to higher susceptibility of someone potentially plagiarizing or being disconnected with... not being able to focus on a subject or topic," said Savage.

Some other veterans, though, aren't totally convinced PTSD could potentially be a factor in a situation like this.

Missoula-area veteran Dan Gallagher says PTSD doesn't usually show up as methodical, calculated actions like plagiarism.

"Results usually of PTSD manifests itself in impulsive, emotionally-charged, emotionally-related, visceral sorts of actions," said Gallagher.

Gallagher says, however, that PTSD can manifest itself differently for different soldiers, so he doesn't rule it out as a potential factor.

Gallagher says he foresees Walsh dealing with consequences in the political realm if the situation is proven to be plagiarism.

"It's not a Watergate or a Monica situation, so I think, probably, the damage that will be done will be done politically, and I think that's sufficient in itself," said Gallagher.

Savage says it would be irrelevant in his eyes, partly because he believes Walsh has done so much to help veterans.

We also spoke with Gov. Steve Bullock to get his reaction to the plagiarism allegations.

Walsh served as lieutenant governor under Bullock for a little over a year, before Bullock appointed him to the senate seat vacated by former Sen. Max Baucus.

"I've never had a conversation with John about his medical past or present and certainly I wouldn't want to be discussing his medical issues or anyone else's," Bullock said.