Helping Our Heros: Standing Up to PTSD

Jericho Cop

It’s been almost a year since the horrific incident in Newtown, Connecticut that resulted in the loss of 20 children and 6 teachers. Despite the months that have passed, the psychological trauma that accompanied the shooting is still very real for first responders and families of the victims.

Thomas Bean, one of the first officers to respond to the Newtown shooting, is living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “That day killed me inside.” He recalls, explaining that he continues to have flashbacks, wake in tears, and suffer paranoid delusions that people are trying to kill him.

Due to Thomas Bean’s PTSD, he could lose his job. And, because the state of Connecticut allows  for long-term care coverage only when mental injuries are accompanied by physical injuries, he would be out of work and without long-term health care to manage his PTSD symptoms.

Fair treatment for a hero who put his own life at risk to try to save the innocent lives of children?

I think not.

PTSD is not only an affliction experienced by our military heros overseas – it is well-documented among civilians and officers who experience violence within America. Instead of continuing to sweep this issue under the proverbial rug, we need to recognize it’s impact on our families and communities, and offer strong support networks and services. We should re-think policies that punish good people by allowing employers to fire their employees due to mental health issues like PTSD. As advocates for both safety and health, we should raise this issue to public consciousness and let people living with PTSD know that they are not alone.

Click here to learn more about symptoms, treatment and help for PTSD.

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I have extensive experience coordinating communications and outreach initiatives focused on health and social issues. In my current position as Project Specialist, I provide communications technical assistance to regional and federal efforts within the National Partnership for Action initiative, with support from the Office of Minority Health. I am a former Peace Corps volunteer who worked on health and social affairs projects in the Federated States of Micronesia. Read more.