It’s a “Nam” vet’s nightmare. Back in the 60’s and 70’s with GI’s coming home from Vietnam and a very few “flipping out” – resorting to public violence – Hollywood and the media quickly pounced on the “psycho war vet” angle, and a new stereotype was born.

All the media hype over the recent series of violent murders at Fort Bragg, N.C. has revived the image of the “Rambo-type” Green Beret who flies into a rage at the least provocation, who “kills first and asks questions later.”

Of the five homicides on base and in Fayetteville since July 1 (two recent suicides added to the death toll: an airborne trooper shot himself in his barracks and the husband of a soldier hanged himself in base housing), four of the soldiers involved were “Special Ops” – three non-commissioned and one field-grade officer.

The accused killers are all soldiers, save the major, who was shot twice as he lay in bed. Police have arrested the field-grade’s wife and an unidentified juvenile in that slaying.

We hope the pundits and pontificators will acknowledge the vast majority of officers and men in Special Operations don’t “walk around with their knuckles dragging the ground.”

Violence and the ability to kill – quickly and efficiently – are a part of Special Ops training. But the spate of homicides on post is not due to a sudden “meltdown” of civilized behavior.

The military is a reflection of society as a whole. This country is at war with a deadly and mostly “unseen” enemy.

The economy has gone to hell and there are always family tensions due to frequent deployments. Husbands and wives in the military are separated much more often than civilians. Thus, the potential for trouble is already there.

The inference that the rash of killings was somehow due to service in Afghanistan and indirectly, “wink, wink” – to that BAD man in the White House, George W. Bush – fits the “cookie-cutter” mold of some press pundits who see a chance to “make hay” in the wake of these homicides.

To determine if the murders are a result of Green Beret indoctrination, or other causes, let’s look at each case individually. But first, note the sensible words of Lt. Sam Pennica of the Cumberland County (N.C.) Sheriff’s Office when he told the Fayetteville Observer that “they all had ongoing marital problems before the war.” Key word here is “BEFORE.”

Sgt. 1st. Class Rigoberto Nieves, in Afghanistan with the 3rd Special Forces Group, got a tip from a buddy that he’d better “check up” on his wife back at Fort Bragg. The rumor was she was having an affair. Two days after he returned to the base from overseas, the NCO shot his wife Teresa, then fired a bullet into his head.

Master Sgt. William Wright, a Green Beret, allegedly strangled his wife Jennifer with his bare hands and then dumped her body in a shallow grave. Investigators quickly found out the couple had been having marriage trouble for a long time and had been talking about a divorce. Wright had recently returned from a two-month tour in Afghanistan.

Sgt 1st Class Brandon Floyd had come back to Bragg from Afghanistan in January. Six months later he shot his wife Andrea in their bedroom and then turned the gun on himself.

Sgt. Cedric Griffin was a cook with the 20th Engineer Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps. Cops say he stabbed his wife multiple times with a kitchen knife and then set her body on fire.

Army Reserve Maj. David Shannon, who worked in Special Ops Command headquarters, was slain in his Fayetteville home. He was shot twice, in the head and chest as he lay in bed. His wife Joan told police an “intruder” had done the deed and then “fled” into the night.

It didn’t take police long to connect the dots and charge the wife and an unidentified teenage accomplice with murder.

So when you analyze the specific circumstances in each of these murders, the scenario of the “psycho GI” returning from the war that made him a “crazed killer” simply falls apart.

Tell that to the folks who sell newspapers and want higher TV news ratings. Don’t let the “facts” get in the way of a “good story.”