Bales received a deferred sentence in Tacoma Municipal Court. The charge later was dismissed after he completed an anger management assessment, had no other law violations in six months and paid a $300 fine, court records show.
He never was charged with DUI following his 2005 arrest, and he was neither arrested nor charged following the 2008 fight at the bowling alley. Police said the complaining witnesses also were drunk and there were no injuries.
While alcohol-related brushes with law enforcement are indicative of drinking problems, they don't tell the whole story, said Oliver, who is only familiar with Bales' case through media accounts. He's never examined Bales nor seen his medical records.
"That is not in and of itself indicative of a problem," Oliver said. "We'd really have to see how alcohol is affecting the different parts of his life: his family life, his work life, his health."
Still, soldiers like Bales, who deployed three times to Iraq before deploying to Afghanistan in December, are at a higher risk to develop alcohol problems than others, Oliver said.
"The stresses of being in combat would certainly make them more at risk for alcohol abuse," he said.
In 2010, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research screened more than 1,100 combat troops recently back from deployment to Iraq. Nearly 25 percent screened positive for alcohol misuse three to four months after their return; nearly 12 percent "exhibited alcohol-related behavioral problems," according to an abstract of the study.
(Lynn reports for the The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash.)
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