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article imageOp-Ed: Inability of the military and law enforcement to deal with PTSD

By Karl Gotthardt     Apr 17, 2013 in Politics
Surrey - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is common in the military, law enforcement officers and first responders. PTSD has resulted in homelessness, domestic abuse, substance abuse and suicides. While PTSD is recognized, the response has been inadequate.
The condition has been around since the first war was fought, but has often been stigmatized and victims were depicted as cowards. Showing signs of weakness did not fit into the world of A personalities. To some extent, while the government and defense officials recognize that PTSD is real, at unit level the stigma still exists to some degree. Junior commanders, unless they have first hand experience, are inadequately equipped to recognize PTSD and are often in denial.
Digital Journal reported last week that veteran and a former member of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board asked for the help of veteran advocates to stop the abuse he suffered and worsened his condition. Harold Leduc says that he has been forced off the Veterans Review and Appeal Board for no valid reason.
Law enforcement and first responders have the same dilemma and at least in one case a former RCMP Mountie has launched a lawsuit in the British Columbia Supreme Court.
James Ward, a former Mountie in Surrey, British Columbia, claims in his lawsuit that the force didn't have sufficient procedures in place, or didn't act to treat or counsel officers who experience trauma on duty. Police officers, along with other first responders are the first on scene when there are fatalities in our cities and highways and of course gruesome murder scenes. The effects are often the same as those experienced by military personnel in combat.
Anyone that has watched the images and interviews of victims in the past two days of the terror attack near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, can visualize the shock effect this had on victims and the first responders, who treated the casualties. There are stories of lost limbs, injured children and confused bystanders. All of this takes a toll on our mental health.
While Ward's lawsuit deals with the RCMP, this is a common problem with all police forces and the military. At the request of the Canadian Human Rights Commission the Mounties are conducting their own investigation into the alleged harassment of Harold Leduc.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is no longer a mystery. The inability of the military and law enforcement to deal with the condition is troubling. In the end, if the effort is not made at the front end, we as a society and its victims pay a large price. It is time for the government, police agencies and the military to stand up, stop the denial and give first responders and military personnel the treatment they need. it's the lest we can do. In the end we will be better off as a society.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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