Inside Disruption Blog

Consultant Perspective: Police and PTSD

Denise Horton
June 16, 2015

I have been working for the Army for 37 years in various capacities. In 2003, I earned the certification as an employee assistance professional. The Army is the only service branch that requires an onboard EAP. I began to work with R3 Continuum as an additional means of helping others in the civilian sector. With an eye toward retirement from civil service, I felt that getting to know how civilians operate would be interesting.


I have enjoyed assisting several companies with grief management, surviving a bank robbery, negotiating changes in company’s status, and downsizings. Each one of these events teaches us something about life. But lately, type of situation is occurring that makes little sense. We are seeing event after event of police misconduct.


So I was wondering? Just how many of those police officer are or were military policeman who have either undiagnosed traumatic brain injury or PTSD or some other undiagnosed mental health issue. It seem the news reports often state that the police officer had previously been a stellar performer or an award-winning officer of some sort. Often the use of force does not match the situation. This may suggest that the office is mis-perceiving the situation or has a highly aroused neurological system staying on hyper alert. Since 9/11, our military police and other reserve soldiers have served in a variety of capacities with little rest. They have been involved in combat, peacekeeping, diplomatic aid, rescue missions, humanitarian aid, training, floods, hurricanes, and many more things you may not see. As an EAP, we are in a position to ask about the situations and offer connections to adequate treatment. That civilian soldier may or may not want to talk about what he/she has done or where he /she has been. Asking them honors their service and provides possible avenues of referral through Veterans Administration or other military- affiliated services. While I neither condone nor excuse any of the police situations, I strive to understand and offer a possible explanation for situations that don’t make any sense on the surface.

Denise Horton