“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Monday, September 8, 2014

Gaming the system

This is just an initial rant, not sure if I'll keep it up or not, but felt like writing.

So today we had one of our senior officers retire due to "PTSD." And I use the parenthesis for a reason, as I'll discuss. A relatively senior guy, has worked the road his whole career, and has a reputation (which I can personally vouch for) for laziness and attempts to work the system to his benefit whenever possible.

The claimed issue stems from a suicide a year ago where this officer was on the periphery - no direct interaction or witnessing of events, and only minor involvement in the aftermath. But according to him it's enough he needs to leave the job. Oh, and despite the fact I know of uglier calls he's been on over the years.

Now - before anyone lectures - I of all people know that PTS affects different people in different ways, and what is one person's trigger may mean nothing to another.

And, maybe I'm a bit cynical because of my own experiences.

But this one just stinks to me, based on knowing him and everything else going on. And it pisses me off.

I'm all for people who are bothered by events getting the help, assistance and everything else they need. And, I certainly don't want someone who can't cope anymore working a dangerous job with themselves and others at risk.

This screams of "faker" though, and I trust my gut on it - of using the system to get a medical retirement on something they can't prove "doesn't" exist, so the agency takes the easy way out in liability and time. And, every single person knows that "So-and-so retired from PTSD from this call." and rolls their eyes.

It bugs me because this is just as bad as the label for PTSD sufferers as "just waiting to snap," so everyone is scared to hire or be around them for this supposed violence waiting to happen. Instead this is the old "malingerer who is using a psych excuse to get out of doing stuff or to get a pension." Which in some ways makes things even worse - because, as an invisible illness PTSD like so many other similar ailments, already faces an uphill battle for acceptance and recognition. And events like this make it even harder for those needing treatment and help to make that choice, because they don't want to be labeled as "that guy" - for a type A personality, being called a slacker is far more degrading than being labeled as violent or dangerous any day of the week.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this was the event that made him have some issues and not feel safe or comfortable anymore, and I'm wrong to judge. But unfortunately I'm afraid I'm not, and this will serve as another example of those things which make it hard for those people who really are suffering to get the recognition and aid they need.


Peter said...

If he retired due to a psychological or psychiatric problem, does he lose his right to keep and bear arms? Just a thought.

Melissa said...

It's a hard line to walk, isn't it? I guess I'd prefer that our society err on the generous side - I'd rather see a few people like this than see PTSD sufferers treated with skepticism.

@Peter - having a psychological problem and being unsafe to carry a weapon are quite different things. Also, trying to stir shit and then defend yourself with "just a thought" is weak sauce.

Momma Fargo said...

Well, call me a pessimist, but he first thing I thought was the same thing as you. I have been on several calls where I have been peripheral or direct with disaster. Even was shot at while inside an armored vehicle. I know young cops and old who have seen and heard a lot more than being on the outside of a suicide. Not one has filed for a retirement, although I would think a couple of them could. Now, each person has their own threshold. That being said, I guess the most important thing is your safety-those left on the street. If the person can't cope, he shouldn't be there. Cops have a tendency to judge our own harsher than the public. That's Ok. It's just part of the system. Don't be hard on yourself. We all have gone down the road of being judge, jury, and executioner. But the question is...is he fit for duty? Hopefully it was not an abuse of the system that would ruin it for others. We had one such officer who did and now it is a lot harder to get a medical base d upon psychiatric issues. Most often, they are labeled and can have issues with employment down the road. If the new gun laws ever pass...will these people be able to bear arms? Great post. I think it is a good thing to discuss.

Old NFO said...

Interesting... and saddening... Gaming the system does NOT help those with real needs...

Captain Tightpants said...

Peter - under current laws no he doesn't - as he hasn't been involuntarily committed for anything nor ruled incompetent/unable to manage his affairs. Whether that will change with any pending legislation as Momma Fargo stated is up for grabs.

Anonymous said...

After reading your blog post on September 8, 2014, I began reading different articles about PTSD. I cannot agree nor disagree with your “gut feeling”. The senior officer claiming to have PTSD due to a case he had no direct interaction with and did not witness any of the details, should be examined by several different physicians and psychologists. It is well known that a police officer’s job is very stressful, after years of duty. This stress takes a toll on the mind and body of these officers.
John M. Violanti, Ph.D. along with New York University at Buffalo researchers have found through a 10 year study of police officers. That the pressures of the job put law enforcement officers at risk for insomnia, high blood pressure, heart problems associated with increased levels of stress hormones, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide.
The U.S. federal government has a great mental health program geared toward military personnel and State Department employees. However, in most states, civil employees who are regularly exposed to violence can only claim PTSD if they have an accompanying physical injury. As in cases such as the December 2012 elementary school massacre that left 26 students and teachers dead, as well as the shooter. President of the Connecticut State Police Andrew Matthews stated, “Some first responders that suffer from PTSD may have nightmares or may even repeatedly relive the event in their mind,”
We as on lookers cannot make judgments for people. Those who try to scam the system have to live with their decisions and in doing so hope these individuals realize they may be making the process harder for those men and women who really need the mental health help they deserve. We all hope that legislation soon recognizes and adapts guidelines to care for and allow workmen’s compensation for our law enforcements officers that truly suffer from PTSD.