Salty here. I received this heartfelt message not too long ago. Its from a cop’s daughter who graciously allowed me to share with Salty Sarge Nation.
The Heartfelt Message
“Hi there, I’ve been wanting to reach out to you for some time now.
I’ve been hesitant because I’m the daughter of a cop. A cop, who has tried to keep me and my sister sheltered from the horrors he has seen and hide how it effects him.
My dad has been in law enforcement for nearly 30 years and I believe he is getting ready to retire. In his career he has seen and done it all. Many things I’m sure I don’t even know about.
He will retire as a Capitan and has spent most of his career in detectives and narcotics. Making rotations through patrol when moral needed the boost. He’s my dad so I’m biased but he really is one of the best at what he does.
Recently, I moved back home while building a house and was around to see just how much my dad has been effected. I knew something was off as my dad and I had always been very close but he had become more and more distant over the last 10 years (I thought it was because he didn’t like me getting married).
“Cop Killer: PTSD and Its Effect on Police Officers”
While staying at mom and dad’s I noticed my dad’s anxiety getting worse and eventually leading to many episodes that mimicked a heart attack and even stroke. I work in healthcare as a CT/x-ray tech in a hospital… So when I became privy to this information and eventually witnessed my dad having one of these episodes (and nearly starting CPR on him), I knew it was time to force my involvement.
My dad felt weak and embarrassed. Eventually he let me take him to Dr appointments and I had to take him to the ER once (against his will…he wouldn’t let me call 911). Going to doctors and the ER (where I work and he knows many people) did not help.
He was not having a heart attack or stroke but has atrial fibrillation. Doctors tell us that while it could lead to stroke it’s relatively benign if he is on anticoagulants. They nearly cardioverted him several times but he would go back into a normal rhythm on his own in the nick of time.
So basically, he feels like he’s going to die and he has doctors telling him it’s just anxiety and PTSD… I’m sure you can imagine what this does to my dad’s psyche. We ask the doctors if he can get over AFib with lowering stress levels and they’ve all told him he will live with it the rest of his life. Also, not easy to take.
My dad is everyone’s hero. He really is an exceptional man. It’s so difficult seeing a strong man feel weak even though we know he’s anything but.
I am my “father’s daughter” and like him in so many ways. I’m pretty sure I can read his mind and he doesn’t get as much past me as he thinks. My mom and I have spent many hours researching and trying to find my dad help in a way he will accept.
“Growing Pains: 3 Hard Truths Every New Cop Should Know”
He enjoys fishing and finally got his dream boat. That seemed to be a little helpful for a while but I knew he needed more.
He had done some EMDR therapy and that helped slightly but it was started too late. Recently we found out about a place in Denver CO. Called “New Hope for the Brain“. They have been doing amazing work with NFL players with concussions and have successfully brought 40 out of 44 patients out of comas in a trial.
My uncle (one of dad’s brothers) went for treatment after an MVC he was not recovering from and they were able to resolve ALL his symptoms. After much research and talking on the phone with the doctors at New Hope, my dad agreed to go and try the treatment. I can’t even begin to tell you how in depth and thorough their program is.
I was amazed and so impressed with my dad’s treatment. Unfortunately, they found substantial damage in my dad’s brain and other parts of his body. Both from emotional trauma and physical trauma. They were amazed he was able to function as well as he does. Good news is they made tons of progress and my dad is working towards recovering. His AFib episodes are less frequent and he has the tools to help himself now.
“Suicide by Cop: Why Are So Many Cops Taking Their Own Lives”
While he was in Colorado Dr. Montgomery asked how she can get more involved with the law enforcement community (they’re also helping veterans). Like you have mentioned in many articles, cops are afraid to speak up for different reasons and ask for help.
I truly feel like we need to change the culture around cops and critical incidence stress management. I know it’s muddy water and an uphill battle but it seems as though you are passionate about this and I truly believe doctor Montgomery and her partner at New Hope for the Brain can help.
I too am more than happy to help in any way I can. I am a member of the Critical Incident Stress Management Team at the hospital and know the police Chaplins well. I’m sorry about this long message and I hope I didn’t give you too much unnecessary information. I’m pretty proud of my dad and all our police officers. I want to help and I will always back the blue. It’s going to be a big life change when my dad retires as he’s been a cop for most of my life. Being a law enforcement family is truly a different family. My dad is a cop for a living but it is a life style for us all. It’s more than a job.”
Trauma impacts the brain either through TBI or just being exposed to violence. Neurological pathways change. PTSD can have a severe impact on firefighters and police officers psychological health. Dr. Perry’s book of children and PTSD is a good read on PTSD in children.
What does PTSD in a child have to do with adult? Neurological pathways and the areas the produce neurotransmitters are changed with the repeated psychological trauma. Police and firefighters are not exempt from the exposure.
If you or your spouse or your partner is having these symptoms:
Behavioral: agitation, irritability, hostility, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior, or social isolation
Psychological: flashback, fear, severe anxiety, or mistrust
Mood: loss of interest or pleasure in activities, guilt, or loneliness
Sleep: insomnia or nightmares
Also common: emotional detachment or unwanted thoughts
Get help. Getting help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength! You are facing down your demons, and beating them!
Just recently began a series of,”flash EMDR”. It’s a different type than just visual stimulus which is done using the subconscious vs the conscious.
The immediate effects are significant and difficult. The next day makes a world of difference. The theory is that it processes trauma like there” no tomorrow.
I have been doing it since February and it has been a very real blessing.
Please spread the word.