Monday, July 26th, 2010 by

As a Police Officer How Would You Handle PTSD, or a Disability, or Both?

Chris Dobratz has had to deal with both.  In our CopsAlive interview with former Police Detective Sergeant Christian Dobratz, an 18 year veteran of law enforcement, who was forced to retire on a disability we discuss how he successfully navigated a severe case of PTSD and then went on to a forced disability retirement because of an old back injury.  He is now an Assistant Professor of Law Enforcement, Department of Government at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

I met Chris when he traveled to my home state of Colorado to be part of a Stress Management for Law Enforcement Seminar that was being presented by CopsAlive Contributor Lisa Wimberger of Trance Personnel Consulting Group (TPCG).

Chris and a very diverse career with work at both the county sheriff level and within a municipal police department.  In his career he worked as a deputy sheriff,  a patrol officer, detective, worked on a drug task force, and medically retired as a police sergeant.  During his career he battled a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder… (PTSD) that was triggered by his investigation of a house fire where three young boys perished.  This came only months after the birth of his first child.  In our interview Chris talks very candidly about his experiences dealing with PTSD and how he successfully worked though treatment and went on to file charges in the deaths of the three boys.  He also talks openly about dealing with an long time back injury that he received playing High School football and how he survived multiple surgeries during his career until a final surgery ended his career.

If you have ever considered how you would handle the severe stresses that lead to PTSD, or wonder if an unexpected injury might end your career, you need to listen to this interview.

You can listen to our 1 hour and 4 minute interview here:

Or you can download the 7 MB mp3 file by RIGHT CLICK HERE to download (that’s CONTROL CLICK if you use a Mac then SAVE LINK AS…) a copy of the mp3 file.

You can can email Chris Dobratz by CLICKING HERE

or check out his page on LinkedIn at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/christiandobratz

Books recommended by Chris Dobratz:
Gilmartin, Kevin M. Emotional Survival For Law Enforcement. Tucson: E-S Press, 2002.
Anderson, Wayne and David Swenson and Daniel Clay. Stress Management For Law Enforcement Officers. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc, 1995.

For more information and resources about PTSD and treatment for police officers see our recent article:
http://www.copsalive.com/copsalive-attends-police-wellness-summit/

CopsAlive.com was founded to provide information and strategies to help police officers successfully survive their careers.  We help law enforcement officers and their agencies prepare for the risks that threaten their existence.

We do this by Helping Law Enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful lives on the job and beyond.  We think the best strategy is for each officer to create a tactical plan for their own life and career.

The Law Enforcement Survival Institute
(LESI) works with individuals and organizations to help them create and sustain success in their lives and careers as law enforcement professionals.  It is the primary goal of The Law Enforcement Survival Institute to become the preeminent source for training, resources and information about how to create and sustain a happy, healthy and successful life and career while providing superior law enforcement service to your community.

19 Comments

  • I thank you for the article. I will listen to the interview ASAP. I have PTSD from my (3) deployments to Iraq. I have been a police officer for over 14 yrs and it looks like I am about to be fired because of the PTSD. I have no idea how I will support my family or what to do next. Either way i hope to learn something from the article. Thanks again and Semper FI.

  • Hi Dan,
    I’m so sorry to hear about what’s happening to you. Thank you for your service (times two). Chris Dobratz is a great guy and i know would be willing to talk to you if you need it. There is a link to his LinkedIn profile in the article. That article also mentions Lisa Wimberger who’s here in Denver with me and I know she would also be willing to help. You can reach her through her website.
    You might also check out our article: http://www.copsalive.com/police-officers-need-to-learn-to-manage-stress-before-it-ruins-their-lives-and-careers/ which is a little closer to home as Chris Prochut worked for Bolingbrook PD in Illinois. His email link is also in the article and I’m sure he would also be willing to talk with you. You might also consider talking to the people at Safe Call Now at (206) 459-3020 (http://www.safecallnow.org/) especially if things start to close in on you. Good luck and Stay safe!

  • [...] As A Police Officer How Would You Handle PTSD or a Disability? http://www.copsalive.com/as-a-police-officer-how-would-you-handle-ptsd-or-a-disability-or-both/ [...]

  • I just retired as a 20 year veteran of the Taylor Police Department in Michigan. My last year was horrible. On July 23, 2010 one of our younger officers was shot and killed 6 times while investigating a supposed home invasion while his partner had to watch and then run after the animal who shot him and return fire (hitting the def 6 times as well…he survived). His trial just ended and he was found guilty of Murder 1 and a host of other crimes. Less than 6 weeks after this incident, on September 7, 2010 one of our Auxiliary/Reserve units was on the freeway checking on a confused motorist. One of those officers was murdered by a mad man who just bought his heroin and was returning from Detroit. The man intentionally struck the officer who was well on the shoulder of the freeway and drove way from the scene at a high rate of speed.

    Now, I get there…chaos…blood…like many officers have said…we’re warriors, we do what we do! I attempted mouth-to-mouth on this officer for over 7 minutes (of course without a barrier). Now I can’t get that and many other horrific stories out of my mind!!

    The limited help for PTSD Police Officers in this area is embarassing! Finally found treatment but went to the hospital twice (panic attacks) and was treated like a freak…

    Please set up critical incident debriefing sessions with professionals and use them. Most fire departments have done it for years! Our after-care consisted of me seeing a psychologist four times…then I was back on the road. I spent my entire 20 years on the road.

    Now this is my mess to clean up. No one at my department “knows” what I saw or went through.

    I think pre-planning as you have suggested would have saved me a lot of grief!

  • Hi Dana,

    Thank you very much for your comment and I’m very sorry for what you have to endure. I have been hearing so many horror stories over the last few months about how officers suffering from PTSD are treated that I’m going to post an opinion article about it this week. I’m sorry for what you have endured and would welcome your comments and discussion on this weeks article. Take good care of yourself and keep the faith, Law Enforcement is still the most noble profession and you should always be proud of your service. Thank you for taking care of your peers and your community!

  • I am currently in the middle of a uphill medical retirement due to off duty back and neck injury. I was diagnosed with PTSD 3 weeks ago for incidents that have taken place during my 16 yr law enforcement career. My medical retirement was deferred by retirement board and I have to be evaluated by their ortho doctor now. I have to submit my PTSD diagnosis to the retirement board and my agency. My agency is still bitterly fighting a former fellow officers PTSD claims, even after having four seperate judgements ruling in favor for my colleague. My agency contiues to file appeals on the case and I fear the same type of retaliation towards me due to the fact that we are the only teo officers that have ever come forward. Please send me info on someone that can help me asap!!!! I NEED HELP ASAP!!!! I have asked for help for several years from my agency and they sent me to a three day class last year that trained me to be a debriefer but only debriefed me on one incident our of three pages worth that I had recollected at the beginning of the class. I seriously need help and would appreciate anything or info you can pass on to me. Thanks in advance.

  • I am a 27 year law enforcement vet, who worked as a patrol officer, patrol supervisor, tactical team member, deputy coroner, a member of a homicide task force, a chief of police, and now, in the final years, I am detective sergeant. I was also a volunteer firefighter for 15 years. I am now being approached to possibly either run for sheriff, or be a chief-deputy in my county.
    I was diagnosed with PTSD about 7 years ago, based on a series of very traumatic fatal crashes and structure fires I had investigated over the years.
    In one fire, I helped to find a 2 year old child inside a mobile home fire whom I knew. It was a fully involved structure fire and the scene was very chaotic and busy. I had previously rescued her and her mother from a very serious vehicle crash when the child was about four months old. While removing her from the fire, and taking her to the hospital, she died in my arms on the way there. I was unable to even think about that fire for almost 12 years without virtually locking up, having extreme nightmares, and becoming unable to think or do anything. Coping with that singular incident to this day is difficult as it brings tears to my eyes and thoughts that I could have done something different. Other incidents come to mind that I can describe in intense detail
    with sound, smell, and touch. Burn victims, gunshot or murdered victims, victims of severe domestic violence. Doing CPR on a teenage car crash victim, then losing her. Meanwhile, not realizing that my uniform and my coworkers uniforms were covered with blood from the effort. The things go on and on.
    There were the coroner calls with dismembered bodies, and then having to do notifications, even to families I was friends with.
    In all those incidents, for the last 27 years, only a very few were debriefed, or where we were offered any type of counseling at all.
    My biggest fear is that if I were to apply for disability due to PTSD, and I do have a fair portion of the symptoms, it will be looked at as someone not being able to handle the career any longer or called a freak.
    I know officers who have taken their own life as the job got to be to much for them, or for whatever reason. I wish those guys/gals would have said something, because there is help there for them.
    Now that I am being asked to step up and take a very high level command position, I am wondering if I am at a point where I should take a very long, hard look at things before I say yes to this. Someone needs to do it, as it needs to be done. But, the level of Critical Incident debriefings needs to get better and the way that officers are taken care of following major things needs t be done better.
    Sorry for rambling. Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

  • Hi Larry,
    Thank you for having the courage to share your experiences here. I want to encourage you to move forward and accept more responsibility in your law enforcement career. You are in a unique position based upon your individual experiences to be more empathetic with the people who will work for you. Not a week goes by when I don’t receive a call or email from officers around the world who have experienced similar tragic and traumatic events and they are being shunned by their peers and thrown away by their agencies because we as a profession haven’t been able to come to grips with what really can happen to us in this caustic profession. We need more leaders who have “been there” and survived to lead us to opening up about the real threats to all of us in a law enforcement career. If we truly mean to “take care of our own” it’s time to put up or shut up and you are in the perfect position to take a leadership role in those changes.
    Good luck and stay safe!
    John Marx

  • Former Marine and former U.S Customs Officer of 20 years. I continue to cope with survivors guilt and live in a heightened state of alert. Survived a shooting incident where a man lost his life. It is a helpless feeling. Knowing so much and, yet, being able to do so little. I worked at the busiest Border crossing in the world for 10 years and still smell the exhaust, hear traffic noises and screeching tires. At times, I have recurring nightmares of this dead mans body and the blood spots where he lay. This is just one OUT OF MANY life threatening horrors which I continue to cope with. Unexpected noises startle me where my adrenaline rushes which leaves me fatigued and numb. What really undermines the true scope and nature of PTSD are those who have never worked in the front lines, yet, seem to move up the promotional ranks quickly and without any care for their fellow officers well being, knowledge and wisdom. This makes it impossible for a front-line officer to trust anyone in that self-serving rank and file. That is unacceptable.

  • Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for sharing. I’m sorry that you have had such a rough time of it, but thank you for your service.
    Please stay in touch and let us know if we can do anything to help you.

  • Floyd Hokaj Sanson
    February 22nd, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    I’ll be honest, I’m a forgotten man. I was a San Antonio Police Officer from
    1987-1994. In 1989 I was involved in a justified shooting. After the
    shooting, I was diagnosed with PTSD. I told the department, the
    psychologist I was having trouble coping, but the department did
    little for me, was encouraged by the department psychologist to leave
    and go to a smaller department. I resigned 5-6 times over a 6 month
    period, the department, allowed me to stay each time I rescinded my
    resignation. They knew I was having problems. The department did
    nothing, the police association did nothing. Despite asking for help,
    I was never given any.

    It was December 2, 1989………………it was suppose to be a simple
    night, I was enroute to pick up a prisoner when, I see a suspect
    running, being pursued by a group of people. I gave chase, along the
    way, I learned the suspect had a gun. When I was chasing the suspect,
    I thought it was a simple theft, perhaps a robbery, I never in my
    wildest imagination would have believed the guy was involved in an
    attempted murder

    Once I caught up to the suspect, it was suppose to be simple, order
    him to drop his weapon, and then arrest him. Instead, I ordered the
    suspect several times to drop his weapon, instead the suspect raised
    the gun toward a teenager, I fired 2 rapid shots, then 1 more. I
    struck the suspect 3 times. Less than 2 minutes from the start of the
    chase to the shooting. I know I had tunnel vision, time seemed to slow
    down, yet it was fast. There was an odor afterwards, an odor of
    death, something I couldn’t shake off, something I couldn’t get rid
    of. I can honestly say, I had trouble breathing, literally and
    figuratively. I couldn’t take it all in.

    In that time, I somehow processed so much, the sights, smells,
    emotions, there was so much conflicting emotions going through my
    mind, I knew I did what I had to do, but there was questions, why,
    how, what had happen. There were so many issues, thoughts, in that
    single moment, your mind quickly processes and filters the civil legal
    issues, the police department’s polices and procedures all this
    before I decided to pull the trigger. I am more than certain that
    police officers have died in the line of duty because they were unable
    to process all of this information in time. Thank God I was able to
    process the information, and take appropriate action.

    Most police officers will go through an entire career without
    discharging their weapon. But on a daily basis, every single officer
    thinks about being in a gunfight. For me I lived through it, and still
    I relive the experience over and over, hardly a day goes by that I
    don’t think about it.

    My training allowed me to be as prepared as possible to assess the
    issues associated with use of force, and, to survive. My training
    kicked in, at first, I felt really good, I mean I saved a teenagers
    life, I did what I was suppose to do, I mean I stopped a threat and
    probably saved a life. Then I realized what had happened, what I had
    to do to stop the threat, then the wave of emotion, ‘oh my God, what
    did I do?” Not many law enforcement officers will have to use deadly
    force during their careers, but now I did.

    They call these types of events, ‘critical incidents’ and they can
    have deep and lasting impact on officers like me. I’ve investigated
    brutal rapes, murder of children, I’ve watched as colleagues have been
    seriously injured and killed, these all compound the way in which I
    respond. It’s the dark side of law enforcement, having to live with
    what you see.

    News of a critical incident usually catches the public’s attention for
    a few days. But the results of the incident last a lifetime for the
    officer involved, as it has for me. The incident goes down,
    investigators sweep in, and the officer is sent home for a standard
    administrative leave. You surrender your gun, talk with the
    investigating officers, then you are sent home.

    But then what do they do?

    After I was finally released to go home, I drove home, stopped and got
    some firewood, it was cold and wet, I tried to sleep but couldn’t, I
    replayed the scene over in my head hundreds of times, I couldn’t
    recall who was the good guy and who was the bad guy. I wanted to know
    who was who, I went to the ME’s office to see the body of the suspect,
    but I was told I couldn’t. The ME notified the police department, and Lt. Vernon sent
    me to see Dr. McMains.

    Each and every officer follows his or her own path in the hours and
    weeks that follow a critical incident. Some want to deal with it on
    their own. Some reach out to their family or other officers. Some
    enter counseling. For me, I tried to deal with it. Eventually I went
    to counseling, but there was so much to process that I didn’t really
    benefit at the time.

    The details of that night are still fresh in my mind, it was wet,
    cold, the suspects face, while other details come and go, it’s been 23
    years, but it seems like yesterday. The chase, the confrontation, the
    suspect raising his weapon, the realization that he wasn’t going to
    drop it, the moment of decision, decision to shoot. I thought I could
    emotionally deal with it, deal with all I had seen, but I could not.

    After I fired the first two shots, my vision narrowed and sharpened.
    All I could see was the suspect raising his gun, I don’t even recall
    hearing the gun go off. I just remember the moment that I realized the
    suspect wasn’t going to drop the gun. Witnesses said I gave multiple
    orders for the man to drop the gun, which he ignored. I felt my eyes
    locked onto the suspect, the gun, the suspect raising the gun, then I
    fired. Realizing that the suspect had no intention of giving up, was
    intent on raising his weapon.

    I know I experienced some visual and auditory distortion. I vaguely
    remember handcuffing the suspect, I remember my hands shaking, I don’t
    recall calling for EMS or telling the dispatcher that I was involved
    in a shooting. Funny thing is just prior to the shooting, I had to
    take a BM, but didn’t get a chance because of the shooting. Now, I
    didn’t have to have a BM for almost a week.

    I felt a huge burst of adrenaline. I had trouble sleeping, and I still
    have trouble sleeping, recurring flashbacks, anxiety, depression,
    fatigue, feel the urge to cry for no reason, guilt and fear. I
    question my own emotions, why am I not strong enough to overcome this.

    I wasn’t encouraged to talk about the incident, to be honest I just
    wanted to forget it ever happened, but I can’t.

    All the critical incidents that I experienced led to the demise of my
    police career, and even now, I’m worried about my career and ability
    to hold down a job.

    I shed tears for no reasons at times, I’m angry, I make jokes out of
    serious matters.

    I still don’t feel like my former self, it’s a rare day that I do.

    Over the years, I’ve self-medicated myself with food, I’ve had
    thoughts of suicide. I’ve had rapid heart beats, chest pain, various
    stomach disorders, prolonged and unexplained fatigue, and at times
    just haven’t felt good. There’s been no healing process, I just feel
    dead inside. I was used to taking charge of stressful situations, but
    that night, the situation took charge of me. For years I was reluctant
    to seek help, I know I’ve internalized and compartmentalized my
    emotions, and the way I act sometimes, well often is confusing to
    those around me.

    PTSD has damaged my life. I think at times I’d been better off not to
    have shot the guy, better off if he had shot me, or I had been killed
    somewhere along the way. The horrific chaos has taken over my life.
    PTSD is a silent killer, it’s killing me, destroying my life, my
    relationships, with my kids, my wife, my career is stagnant.

    I have no control over the way my brain chemically reacted to the
    trauma, it just happens. I can’t battle the demon on my own, I can’t
    battle the stereotype and stigma associated with PTSD either.

    I lack self-confidence, I have anxiety and depression. Because of my
    disability I’ve been discriminated against because of this sterotype
    and stigma. I feel helpless and wronged because of something I can’t
    control. I’m brittle and damage. I live in fear that I’ll lose my job
    if I have problems or have to ask for accommodations.
    There are times I’ve become so incredibly angry that I can barely
    speak because of the discrimination and problems I’ve faced. I know
    that my voice shakes, I become loud, angry when I think of it all. I’m
    ashamed of what has happened to me. I try to avoid eye contact with
    people out of fear that they’ll see right through me. I live in,
    better said, am trapped in this recurring nightmare.

    My heart, mind, body and soul are damaged and obsessed by what has
    happened. The event and events after my shooting occupy most of my
    waking moments and frequesntly disturb and occupy my sleep and in
    particular my dreams. I constantly think about the incident, even if I
    don’t want to.

    I am a member of the walking wounded. Dead but still breathing. The
    untold story is that this trauma is life changing, I’ve not been the
    father or husband I wanted to be. There was a culture of silence and
    toughness, I suffered for years, and finally got into some therapy,
    but I’m still a long way from where I want or need to be. I feel I
    failed at my mission, my mission was to help people, but instead I had
    to take another life. I’ve failed my family, my kids, I’m a failure.

    The incident haunts me, I erupt into anger over simple things, the
    kids misbehaving or just being kids. Minor household problems caused
    me to get bent out of shape. Sudden noise, created anxiety. I’m not
    the same person I was the day of the shooting, I remember being so
    easy going, loving life, looking forward to each day, but now, I hate
    life, it is hard, I don’t look forward to each day.

    I can barely function day to day. I’ve lost my police career because
    of ptsd, i’m on the brink of losing my nursing career, i’ve been fired
    because of my ptsd and have been discriminated against.

    I’ve had to go into intense outpatient theraphy, I’m on med’s, see the psychiatrist every month.
    I’m spending almost $300 a month for psych meds and psych Dr visits. I would love to see a psychologist but I can’t afford it.

    I feel the city of san antonio should be paying for my medicaltreatment for ptsd.

    Noone cares. The city doesn’t want to help, the union didn’t help.

    Former police officer

  • Hi Floyd,
    I’m so sorry to hear what you have had to go through. Thank you for sharing your story for others to read. You are not alone. I hear from so many officers who share similar stories, and I know there are no easy answers. I urge you to continue down your path toward healing. The research into, and treatments for PTSD are always advancing. Please stay in touch with us and keep the number for Safe Call Now 206-459-3020 with you always. There are a lot of cops out here pulling for you and many of them are on the other end of that crisis line if you ever need them. Hang in there and keep fighting. You deserve better and I know you will find what you need to lead you out of this darkness and toward the joys of life you deserve.

  • Hello,
    I responded to a child choking call which typically are one of two things either a dead child or a healthy child that the parents saved before you got there. On this one me and a fellow officer worked on the child with all we had 6 month old, very bad scene foamy blood gasping ect. F.D. came and took the child away i found out from another child in the home that the child had been fed a balloon and told rescue. They transported and called 20 min later to save whoever discovered the balloon info did a great job and the child would live. A few days later a detective that investigated the call tells me that the child is on life support and isnt gonna make it, felt like a sledge hammer hit me. Again the next saturday a child drowning call dejavue all over. Department policy on debreifings notifications ignored completely. Three weeks after the first incident and numerous sleepless nightmare riddled nights of drinking myself to sleep I crash a police car off duty alcohol involved. After six months of IA hell suspension and telling the truth to IA as well as releasing the phycologist to them. I am being fired despite the fact that guys with no reasoning have done the same and gotten two day suspensions. I am lost I have 3 kids oldest 3 medical insurance will end in 2 weeks cant even see phycologist for the ptsd after that which i got on the cities time. The city I worked for has thrown other guys away with similar issues. This is my first disipline in 6 years of commedation after commendation. Because they suspended me for 20 days as a punishment cant even release retirment $ to keep bills up to date. The union is on it but can take 2 years. Anyone have a clue what I should do?

  • Hi Rob,
    I’m so sorry for what’s happening to you. I don’t have any specific resources that could help you but I’m hoping that our readers will have something that they can share that might work. Can anyone provide a resource for Rob?

  • Partner in Crime
    March 22nd, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Rob’s story is not unlike what happens to many officers as PTSD symptoms surface and result in a progressive downward spiral until intervention and treatment intercepts further dysfunction. Rob, always hold your head high. What you are going through is a very normal reaction to abnormal stress. If you are currently diagnosed with PTSD incidental to your performance as a law enforcement officer, claim this injury as a Workmans Compensation claim immediately. This lays the groundwork for longterm treatment resources as needed. Do not let your agency intimidate you as you initiate the claim; just follow through regardless of the approval or denial of this claim. It’s now on record that you
    initiated WC benefits for diagnosed PTSD incidental to performance in the line of duty. Next, if your agency fires you or sets you up for
    resignation under duress, document all interaction. This is where a supporter (spouse, trusted significant other, or family member) may be of assistance as you navigate your way out the door.

    Since your union cannot meet your needs in a reasonable and prudent time frame, it is now time to HIRE THE BEST ATTORNEY to represent your case. After consultation and fact-finding discovery, if this case merits litigation your agency will be sued commensurate with the financial needs to provide adequate renumeration for your loss of employment, earnings, pain and suffering and treatment. The attorney will also guide and direct you through the process.

    It is going to take this kind of action to set precedent and begin exposing the reality of PTSD in law enforcement in our country. Once publicity, court cases, appeals and settlements to officers begin to financially impact agencies throughout the nation, officers with PTSD will no be treated as you and others so often are.

    There is honor, dignity, professionalism and courage in all you do, Rob. Don’t let PTSD tell you otherwise. Your agency may think they’re through with you. They are wrong. You’ve only just begun – do it for you, your family, your brothers and sisters on the streets, and for your future – a bright future waiting to unfold even after what you’ve been through. Best wishes to you.

  • Hi, I was deeply moved by the above experiences of which were written. I am a retired Connecticut State Trooper. I enjoyed my career in law enforcement but found it to be extremely challenging to understand how to handle the enormous amounts of emotional stress. As years passed and stress increased what I was witnessing within me was that my mind and body were holding onto a lot. Unknowingly I did not realize that with ever motor vehicle fatality, death notification or crisis I responded to, that the sadness of these events where getting trapped within my cells. Because I noticed that inwardly I felt the heaviness of these trapped emotions, I began to go inward and self-investigate how to begin to free myself from the enormous amounts of heaviness I was feeling. Through my inward self- investigation I was able to free myself and I was able to reconnect to myself again and live life joyfully. I now dedicate my life as a Law Enforcement coach to assisting other officers find the same inward liberation. If there is anything that I can do to assist you move forward through these moments, please don’t hesitate to make contact with me. My husband who is also in Law Enforcement was one of the Troopers who responded to the Newtown Shooting. I was able to assist him move through this horrific experience so that it did not stay trapped within him. If you have any questions I would be more than happy to answer them for you. My email is theinvestigationofself@gmail.com and my website is http://www.theinvestigationofself.com “Helping You Stay Focused On The Front Sight” DG

  • Hi Debbie,
    Thank you for your comments and thank you so much for what you are doing. LEO’s from around the world can all use a little help to survive this very toxic career.
    I appreciate what you are doing and hope that you will contribute your thoughts to Copsalive.com in the future.

  • Hi, I know what you are going through. I have been a Sheriff Deputy for 24 years and am suffering from PTSD. I was involved in a shooting in 2004. I was told to return to work five days after the incident and continued to work. In 2009 I felt like I was losing my mind and fell into a deep depression. I went to my undersheriff and he sent me to get help. I was off for five months and returned to work. I was taken off the road last week again because I am having some serious issues again. I started gambling and drinking heavy. I am back in treatment but wondering if I will ever be able to return to my job. I have only six years to retire but don’t know if I will be abe to make it.

  • Hi Ken,
    I’m so sorry to hear about what you are going through but want to say thank you for sharing your story. I don’t know what kind of peer support you have with your own department but I urge you to get some support from someone you trust. You need backup and it could come from your agency or a neighboring agency. If you don’t have a formal Peer Support program where you work maybe you could help yourself and others at the same time by starting one. We have resources from Dr. Jack Digliani on our main page as well as on our resources page that can guide you to starting a program. Dr. Digliani is a Police Psychologist but he is also a former cop. I urge you to reach out and ask for help, because you don’t need to do this alone. Sometimes the best way to heal ourselves is to work to create something that can help others! Please stay in touch with us.

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