Have you ever watched Blue Bloods? I love that show- I love that it shows some of what a cop thinks while they are doing their job and the family life of a cop. But I will also say- it is still nothing like they show on TV. Never the less- I still love it.
So tonight I sit down after getting the kids to bed. Turn to CBS and rewind it back (love that I can do that with DirectTV) and start to watch my show. I know it was going to be an intriguing one because the clips hinted it had to do with the military. But I didn’t know it would be as serious as it was. They touched a subject that for some reason is taboo- PTSD in our service men and woman. These men and women go of- get shot at and dodge IED’s and what not and are expected to come home perfectly normal as if nothing happened. Sorry- it doesn’t work that way.
Now I am not a military wife so I wont claim to know what these families must be feeling and going through. But I do have a husband who is in Law Enforcement- and while he may not be dodging IED’s he does have risk with his job. He sees accidents where a 22 year old is partially ejected, or sat through an autopsy for an accident of a woman who was killed by a drunk leaving behind an infant and a toddler and husband. He serves search warrants for men who pray on children. He see’s things that I honestly do not know how he could handle not throat chopping someone when dealing with the idiots causing it.
The reality is- Both Military and Law Enforcement Officers have a darkness that no one wants to admit to. If the men go ask for help will their buddies see them as weak. If a woman seeks help would the men say “see woman shouldn’t be in this field they can’t handle it”. Instead society says “you choose this you should be able to handle it”. But they are human and no one can handle watching their unit get hit by an IED, or responding to an accident with a child, or a murder scene. No amount of training can prepare you for all of that. Instead of saying “deal with it” we need to let them know that it is OK to have these nightmares. Now again- I am not speaking for Military only- I am a LEOW (law enforcement officer wife) so I know more of that. I am also not trying to compare the two- I would never dream of doing that. They all have their own nightmares, but it doesn’t change the fact that they all battle some sort of terror.
Because of these terrors in 2012 there were 349 active duty suicides in the military. That is almost one a day! Then you add the vets, about 22 suicides A DAY! 22! That is one every 65 minutes Another study shows that 20% of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD but only half of them receive help. To me that is unacceptable. These men and woman deserve better!
While the number is not as large in LE it is still ridiculously high. 1 officer dies in the line of duty every 55 hours. In 2012 we lost 129 officers in the line of duty and while that happened 126 officers took their own lives. Why are we losing the same amount of officers in the LOD and suicide? At the same time how accurate is that number? It is known that suicides are under reported or misclassified as an accident to protect family, other survivors and the agency. But why are they doing it? It is estimated that 125,000 officers have PTSD. For every 1 suicide there is 1000 officers suffering from it.
Now in the episode of Blue Bloods they showed a soldier suffering from PTSD and was pushed over board by his wife wanting a divorce. Sadly that is a very common trend. My husband’s own agency lost a man of 20+ years on the force to suicide, like most scenarios- his wife left him. The worse part- they never released that it was a suicide. They released it as an “accidental death”. I wont claim to know what it is like to live with a Military person dealing with PTSD. But as a LE wife I know how frustrating the job can be. You are sitting enjoying a nice quiet evening and he get’s called out to accident. Birthday’s scheduled around the shift, holidays happening quickly, no vacation planning. I get it. But they need our support just like our service men and woman do. They may seem selfish- but in reality by expecting them to be perfect and fine we are the selfish ones. By fighting over something as small as having a date night on a Sunday night, we are being selfish. We need to support our spouses. Be there for them. Keep watch on them. You as a spouse know your loved one better then any one. You will be the first to know when something isn’t right and it is your job to make sure they get the help they need. Not to leave them as so many are quick to do. To these people- coming home to someone who loves and supports them is what keeps them going. Knowing that they have someone waiting to care for them and stand by them. Yes, they may not want to talk about it. But you still need to be there and encourage them. Let them know that they need to talk and when they are ready you are there for them. Don’t push them, don’t force them.
Just be there.
There are many sources where one can get help when dealing with suicidal thoughts or PTSD. Talk with your Agency, or check out online. The VA has a crisesline where they can call and talk to someone. For Law Enforcement there are agencies like C.O.P.S and Badge Of Life.
There is help out there and it is OK to get it. It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human. We need to quit seeing this as a taboo topic and start getting these people the support they need and deserve. If you have any resources feel free to leave me a comment! I will allow any links that can possibly save the life of someone with PTSD.
~I am not an expert nor am I a therapist. I support Law Enforcement and Military and researched this before posting. Some sites I used are http://www.veteransandptsd.com/PTSD-statistics.html http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2013/02/05/22-the-number-of-veterans-who-now-commit-suicide-every-day/ and http://www.officer.com/article/10850327/police-suicides-drop-in-2012~