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Ptsd and family members

 

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Correction officer jamestown0509 313 posts

Once a CO, always a CO. Like you commander even though retired I still think about my fellow officers back at the jail. Occasionally I run into one of them at a store where we discuss how things are going. One of the things I have noticed since retiring is that I am more relaxed and less stressed. I still have an issue with someone walking up behind me then touching my shoulder or my back, I instinctively turn around to make sure its not a inmate. If an officer is honest, hard-working, and professional he or she can be justifiably proud of being a CO.

 
Male user commander 277 posts

Like your post greenead. Our wives and husbands, fathers and mothers, and most of all our kids, are what make us who we are. I have noticed the younger generation (GOD help me, I know my dad said this about us) are a little more carefree in their attitudes towards their families. Not all of them, but a lot of them. I would make sure to take the time to tell them how important those people are. I also made it a point to go to roll call with the Captain and tell the Officers to quit stabbing each other in the back. Happens more than I care to talk about it. I did not like cliques. I would tell them that after the riot at our prison in 1993, we got such an outpouring of love and kindness from prisons in New York, Canada, Florida, California, I could go on and on. The bond we have with each other, even other states and countries, it matters not who you are or where you are, we are there for each other. Law Enforcement don’t understand us, Fire Fighters don’t understand us, no one understands us but US. Not even our families. As hard as they try, they can’t understand us. We are a unique breed of Warriors. We walk where no one else would dare. We charge into the shit, not away from it. Anyone who has ever responded to a man down alarm, knows this. I mean no disrespect to the above mentioned professions. They are heroes in there own right. We just walk a lonely beat. No one cares about us until something really bad happens. Even though I am retired now, my heart is with yall everyday. I pray for your safety and hope you leave the way you went in. I have had literally hundreds of people ask me how I did it. I tell them all the same thing. I did it because I had solid people doing it with me. The courage, honor and integrity displayed on a daily basis is what I will remember the most. So keep your head held high and know that you are a special breed of Warrior. One unlike many today.

 
Male user greenead 1 post

I know this is a little older post, but I was hoping to pass a message on the Wife of a CO.

I am a CO with PTSD stemming from an incident a little over a year ago. I too wish there was more help for COs and for the families. However, the point I want to make is that I could not have made it through the toughest moments without my wife. Please continue to be supportive of him.

 
Correction officer jamestown0509 313 posts

That reminds me of the time on 3rd floor when the Sgt came off the elevator with a camcorder looking at me and I said, “Hi Sgt Zen, what’s up?” He was so pissed he ran back on the elevator down to the basement. Another time on 2nd floor where the outside stairs come right into the area of the COs desk the Sheriff himself came up the stairs at 3:00am. I said “Hi Sheriff, what are you doing up this time of the night?” He said “I go on patrol and I take care of my officers.” I was impressed to say the least. You would laugh at one CO who used to take a mat in the catwalk for his nap, set an alarm for 5am to get up and serve chow. Another CO was supposed to be watching 15 inmates sleeping on cots in the old gym because we ran out of cells and I walked in he was sleeping on a cot. Amazing.

 
Male user commander 277 posts

Know how you feel jamestown. As a Lt., we worked 3, 13 hour 20 minute shifts. The four days off were great but, the 1st day off was resting up. I worked 5pm to 6:20am. About 1am it started getting really hard to stay motivated. Our prison has been one man cells since the riot in 93. Our Officers are required to make range checks once every 30 minutes and log it on a range check log. At the back crossover of each range is a sensor, The Officers were required to key their spider alarms using a button and that would indicate when the range was checked. Each Officer who was assigned as a rover (in charge of 2 blocks), would log the time entering the range, key the sensor at the crossover of each of 4 ranges. They are required to look into each cell. It does wear on your nerves. Sleep is ever needed and never received. When I made security rounds, I would walk the ranges and go in the booth to see how staff was getting along. I did not tolerate sleeping on duty and it would rate an automatic discipline. Guess that was the military in me.

 
Correction officer jamestown0509 313 posts

I worked third shift for many years until they finally approved straight shifts instead of swings. One of the biggest problems is lack of sleep. I could care less how many hours you say you slept during the day or even cat naps before 11pm you are still tired. I recall many nights at 3am struggling to keep awake, drinking coffee, doing extra rounds to get my mind off sleeping. On third shift you really need to be on top of the game because that’s a great shift for a hangup or assault (sexual or fight). Each of your officers should randomly check the block or tier, never get in the habit of a 2am check, always vary it so they can’t track you. Listen for unusual sounds, mumbling, tapping, bars being bumped, etc. I never liked walking the catwalk at night with minimal lighting on the blocks it was really difficult to see inmates in the corners and end of the block, so we carried small AA flashlights. In our facility we had to do a clock round every fifteen minutes and log it. Previous years we used a wind up clock that you keyed when you came to the end of the block. Later they installed pipes so you hit the pipe on the metal plate and when it was registering it beeped and flashed red. Its easy to get lackadaisical on 3rd shift but that is the worst thing to do. Stay safe.

 
Male user Canusxiii 116 posts

You are right.You never stop learning.Alot of the newbies don’t understand the importance of making their rounds on 3 shift right now. The shift that I am in right now. Where I am at is mostly dormitories,anywhere from 38 to 40.Sure it can get boring but if they decide to fight or jump another inmate and the officer is not making their hourly rounds or coming to their gates at least every half hour.Well is easy to see what can happen.

We had a recent incident in one of the few cell units.Mostly older inmates or those with a year left.Officer was diligent and doing his job.Making his rounds every half hour to am hour.They are single cells.Older inmate complaint he was not feeling well.He was taking to the nurse where it was discovered he was going thru insolent shock,diabetic.He was later transfer out to the prison hospital later that day where he die….Complacency gets you in trouble or it kills.
 
Male user commander 277 posts

Sounds like you know what your doing and are taking care of yourself. Keep your eyes open and well as your ears. Be like a sponge, soak it all up. In corrections, you never stop learning. I was learning new tricks up until the day I retired. Never let off the throttle. Do your best and be proud of who you are and what you do. We do walk the silent beat. You will eventually find the fine medium of not being too hard and not being too soft. Just be the same everyday. Firm, fair, and consitent. Youv’e probably heard that a number of times but it is the way to be. You will find other staff, your supervisor’s and the Inmates showing you a new found respect. The Inmates might not like you but, they will respect you for being the same everyday. Complacency is a viral disease in Corrections. We can never let down our guard. I have seen critical incidents happen literally in the blink of an eye. Just when you think it is going smooth. One day, an Officer was watching the Inmates return to their respective cell from lunch. As they walked up the steps to the top range, 2 Inmates assaulted a 3rd Inmate and knocked him out and threw him off the top range. Probably 15 feet down onto concreate. The Inmate died after a day or two. It happens that quick.

 
Male user Canusxiii 116 posts

Thanks,glad to read your post,there are days that I worry about freezing on the job.My old prison was affecting my health"Felt liked I was trying to mix apple and oranges"to tough on the inmates or to soft.Got label “powder blue”.Granted with only 7 years in I am still learning .

New jail,my biggest fear is complacency,is pretty easy to do.General Assignment Officer 4 days out of my bid.Hardest part is dealing with all the egos from the officers,especially the newbies.Panic disorder,wow,I seing someone right now for it.Good friend of mind years back,always though he was tough as nail ended up committing suicide,I never expected it,thou he was tired working 3 shift,5 days later we got the bad news at line up.Since I occasionally suffer from panic disorder.But keeping busy,finding new outlet ,this com.site helps,Be Safe,as we say here in NJDOC.
 
Male user commander 277 posts

It is very difficult to suppress your feelings both at work and at home. Sounds like you have a handle on it. Do not for one second, feel like you are to much of a man to seek help if it starts affecting how you think and act. I suppressed the 1993 Riot in ohio for many years and went through a number of relationships due to it. When I met my current wife, I realized I had found the right one and would do whatever was necessary to keep her from what I had suppressed. It took a Critical Incident at work in the Inmate Dining Room to get me to seek some counseling. First few sessions, I did not pay attention as I felt I knew it all. My Doctor was a Vietnam War veteran. He was the perfect person to unload feelings on. I let him have a CD of the Riot and when I saw him again, he was amazed by what he saw. I was diagnosed with PTSD and Panic Disorder. I have since learned to live with the fact that I can’t take an eraser and make all the bad memories go away. All of us who work or worked in corrections have a giant EGO. If you don’t your’e either lying to yourself or your in the wrong field. Face it, we do what most can’t or won’t do. During the Riot, our perimeter fence was surrounded by State Troopers in their car. When I reported to work, I had hit a deer on the way in. I stopped at a cruiser, he took my information and told me he would do an accident report and put it in my van for me. Then he looked at me and the two guards that rode to work with me and told us, “You guys are completely nuts for going in there. You couldn’t pay me enough money to walk in that prison right now.” We definately are a special and rare breed of person. We don’t run away from trouble, we run to it. That in itself, is highly stressful. I have found out since my retirement, my nerves don’t bother me, the bad dreams and headaches have went away. I feel so much better. I hope Canusxiii that you continue to find an outlet for your stress. Sounds like you have. Divorce rate and suicide rate in corrections is a lot higher than most professions. I love watching Deadliest Catch. They say it is very dangerous. I agree but, they do that 3 or 4 months out of the year. We do it everyday. We are on call 24/7. One minute we are standing around talking and then go 0 to 60 in less than 3 seconds responding to a man down alarm or a call for help over the radio. Not real good for your nerves. Take care everyone. Thanks for your service and your sacrifice.

 
Male user Canusxiii 116 posts

7 years under my belt for the NJDOC.What I learn is don’t talk about my job on my days off,seeing to many people at work live and breath corrections.I believe what happens on the job stays on the job.
Hardest part for me iis turning myself on and off liked a light switch.Agressive at work,outside the job,shy away from conflicts.Divorced ,ex wife from hell.Careful on the language.Son going thru some problems of his own,alcohol.I cannot grab him and kick his behind.Gotta be careful.What’s acceptable at work can be consider Domestic Violence.Careful what I said and do in public.
Is not easy.hobbies.second job.De-stressing,time for myself….Keep myself busy and just do the best I can do on the job.

 
Male user commander 277 posts

Sounds good to me. I will shoot you an email. Your’e so right. Only we know what we deal with. I had one Inmate I had to place in restraints and take to the Hole. He was covered in feces. I asked him why he did it and he said he had a skin disease and the feces would take away the disease. Talk about using the vicks under your nostrils. I always carried a tube in my pocket, just for special occaisons. Would love to share some stories with ya. I will shoot you an email.

 
Correction officer jamestown0509 313 posts

Commander I have written many incidents from the jail experience in articles called “True tales from the jail.” Its a compilation of actual things that inmates said or did which are amusing to say the least. Probably the general public wouldn’t understand what we go through on an average day. For example, an inmate who claimed he was being chased by the Russians and they were going to kill him with an exploding egg. An inmate who thought space aliens were on his toilet. These are stories that only COs would know are true and its just amazing what tales I have heard over the years. If you or other members would like a copy just send me an email: radar0509@yahoo.com

 
Male user commander 277 posts

Jamestown, you are spot on. Seems you keep yourself very busy. That is a good thing. Keep the mind and body active and stay young forever. Throughout my years in corrections, a lot of people have retired only to die within months. Some not even collecting their first retirement check. Very sad. I promised myself to keep busy and not let that happen. But, guess when the good Lord says it is time, it is time. I will enjoy everyday until then. Have seriously put in some thought on writing a book about my experiences. Myself and fellow Employees would often joke and say we would have to make it a fiction. Who in their right mind would believe some of the things we have dealt with on a daily basis. Stay busy and good luck with all you do. You do contribute immensley to your community. They are lucky to have you. Enjoyl.

 
Correction officer jamestown0509 313 posts

Like yourself, I have been retired since June of 2011 and I am enjoying it immensely. I have a 16 month old granddaughter who loves her “papa” and we play together for hours so that is certainly a relaxing thing to do. I also am very involved in my community volunteering with the fire department as vice-president and secretary, the fire police association for the county as secretary, 1st battalion Lieutenant with the fire police response team, teaching part-time criminal justice and technical career education at BOCES, and teaching CPR/advanced first aid for the American Heart Association. So some might say when do I get time for myself, well actually at night I am at my apartment doing my usual watching CNN, doing reports on the computer and on my 11 corrections and police websites. I think the problem with most people retiring is not having a plan for doing something you find enjoyable and most importantly keeping your mind sharp by doing mental exercises, reading, etc. At my apartment building there is one older man who sits in his outdoor swing all day and most of the night looking at the back yard and cars that are parked. For the love of me I can’t understand why one would want to do that because its just so boring and you are letting yourself get into that state where you do nothing but sit and looking. (Kinda reminds me of constant watch at the jail doesn’t it commander?). So in summary keep busy and enjoy your retirement.

 
Male user commander 277 posts

I have been retire for a little over 6 weeks. I can tell you it has taken me this long to be able to eat properly and sleep properly. My stomach isn’t upset constantly as it was while working in the prison. I have never forgotten even one critical incident I have been directly or indirectly involved in. But, as George Booth said, we do have choices. My choice was to buy 3 years and 10 months of military time and retire early. I still have 30 years of service, 26 years and 2 months actual. I, like most of us in corrections, have dealt with a lot of traumatic experiences. While at the Corrections Training Academy in 1985, Segregation Inmates in the Supermax block, took over the block and held both Officers hostage for 36 hours. Those of us going to “LUC” already knew the environment we were going into. I pulled in my driveway from work on Easter Sunday of 1993 and learned that a full scale riot had occurred. Many fights, stabbings and killing later, I retired with few physical ailments, but many mental ailments. I have learned to deal with them internally and have for the most part, been successful. I have a family and 3 beautiful grand daughters that make me normal. They inspire me to strive for perfection and to be as healthy as I can be. Maybe that is the key, finding someone or something to inspire you for greatness. We all need to leave behind a legacy of honor, integrity and doing what is right. They are my inspiration.

 
Correction officer jamestown0509 313 posts

Being a correction officer is a stressful occupation because of the prisoners/inmates we supervise everyday on the job. Unlike other occupations where you can go outside and de-stress after an incident more often times than not you are stuck inside the prison/jail until the end of the shift because reports have to be written right away while the incident is fresh in your mind. Of course events like the ones that happened to these officers are extremely traumatic and recollecting times, facts, who was there, what was said and what was done is going to be difficult. The constant reminders of a serious incident remain with the officers for a long time, that’s why as a supervisor I told my subordinates to try to leave the job when your shift ends and not take it home and to talk to a fellow officer about the issue. When you take all that stress home to your wife, girlfriend and kids it really throws everything into a loop for the whole family and yes I know its difficult to change from being a CO to a family man or woman after a shift. If you can walk out the door safely after a shift ignore that you even work there, go home to your family and relax doing things with them, exercising, going to a Gym, etc.There are some really good stress debriefings that are done with the fire service that involve group discussions of incidents with professional counselors, that might help.

 
E tivity logo140x70 GeorgeBooth 14 posts

What incredible situations human beings can be forced to endure, witness and survive.
The simple fact you can speak so candidly about your experiences shows me how amazingly strong you all are. I wish there was a magic pill to comfort you or better yet, make you forget all the horriffic things you have witnessed humas do to other humans.
I do want to share with you all one piece of knowledge I have gained over the years and how it has helped me.

Choice. Choice is a powerful thing most of us take for granted. We make choices every day without thinking about them, most of them inconsequential, irrelevent. Other choices are far less easier to grasp and sometimes take that epiphany to reach. The hardest choice I had to learn was I am the master of my domain. I choose how things affect me, I choose what to cherish and what to bury. I choose to be angry and I choose to be compassionate.

You all have a choice to be free from your past and your experiences. We can’t forget our experiences, but we do have the choice to not allow them to direct our lives, to make us angry, to make us depressed. We have the one gift God laid at our feeet for us and most of us never use it wisely, our ability to choose. Each of you have that ability to choose within you, you have already shown it by your sheer strength and ability to endure what you already have. Make the choice to move on, to be happy, to cherish the good things around you. I believe every one of you is my hero and I find satisfaction knowing you will all overcome the demons you have seen because you are masters of your own domain. You can choose.

 
Dscn2139.jpgsmall Tom-R2 1 post

I retired from Ohio DRC and was working in other facilities when those events took place, so I know them well. Prior to working in corrections I worked the street as a police officer and was involved in a fatal shooting. After all of that the investigations, physical injury, mental stress, court inquiries, being sued, then moving into corrections a few years later, I had a fair amount of stress in my career. I want to point out that PTSD/stress isn’t caused by the incident – it is caused by our REACTION to the events. While it’s simple to say “It’s all in our heads”, to a great extent it is, but it’s a real reaction to events. Everyone reacts differently, and the negative aspects can produce terrible reactions, mental and physical in us.

I worked for many years dealing with officers, both police and corrections, who were dealing with the aftermath of traumatic events. There are groups and meetings that offer peer support that helps most individuals. If you feel like you need to talk to a professional psychologist, I recommend inquiring ahead of time if they have experience dealing with police/corrections/criminal justice related stress. The Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy at London used to offer an excellent one-day class on dealing with PTSD, mostly involving police officers in post-shooting situations, but also other forms of criminal justice stress as well. You might contact them and see if they still put on this class and try to sign up. You could contact a major police agency close by and see if they use a particular psychologist to deal with their own officers.

Others have recommended reading articles and books on the subject. That is a great way to learn what is actually going on inside your head. The biggest point to take away is that this is a reaction to what you have experienced. You have to roll it around and decide what you are going to do with this memory. You can’t get rid of it, but you don’t have to carry the thing around with you, staring at it every day. Mentally, you have to box it up and put it on the shelf and go about your daily business. Get it down off the shelf to share it with colleagues or others when you want to show them what you’ve been through, then put it back in the box and back on the shelf. It sounds pretty simple – more simple than it is to do it, but that is how lots of folks deal with it over time. Good luck!

 
Male user commander 277 posts

I understand you completely. The best advise I can give is to read some books on prisons and prison life. To understand him completely, you have to work in a prison. PTSD is caused by a traumatic event. This can be witnessing the after effects of a suicide, being involved in Inmate on Inmate violence (whether or not a life is taken) and either being involved in or being assaulted by an Inmate. That is just to name a few. The actual thoughts running through our minds as we walked through the front door. The gates locking behind us, the thought of leaving our families to carry on without us. These all multiply and cause incredible amounts of stress. Have your husband shoot me an email sometime. Would love to be any help I can. I lost 2 employees while on duty. I had an Officer who worked for me, almost beaten to death while I was off. As a Supervisor, I still carry that with me, even after retiring. The only boost is knowing I don’t have to go in there no more. I still worry about my friends. The relationships you develope with fellow employees are a bond that can never be broken. We, who walk through the door are a warrior class unto ourselves. I am so glad you didn’t leave and didn’t give up. Your husband needs you and always will. Watch some videos on prisons. Understanding will come with time and patience. You sound like you have both. Remember, there are times when he needs his space. The family is the life blood of the corrections employee. Without you, our lives would be lonely and stressful. Thanks.

 
Female user wife of co 2 posts

First , I want to say thank you. Thank you for what you did. My husband as well, was involved in some hostage situations and horrific situations. He goes on a regular basis for therapy and is very much involved in it, which I am grateful for the medical professionals who are helping him! But my question is, as a wife and partner, where do I go to get the education and help that we need to understand. Aside from learning as we go. I know the divorce rate is high, and there are times where it seemed impossible to stay around, but I know (from experience now), and that to compare to any other “normal” couple is not the way to look at it, because we may as well be on a different planet if you even try to explain it to the “normal”.My husband actuallly sent me this web site, as he wants me to understand too. But are there groups for wives, partners, family members anywhere, where we can communicate and learn from each other? As the word gets out, that PTSD is real and does affect so many people not only in war vets but the “silent beat” heros like yourself, we will need these forums for the other half of the suffering. Because when you hurt, we hurt too.

 
Male user commander 277 posts

I recently retired from Corrections. I was involved in a Riot, numerous hostage situations and an unknown amount of assaults. I was working the day a teacher was murdered and I saw her being taken out on a gurney. I was working the day an Officer, who was a hostage during the riot was murdered. I too, suffer from PTSD. I retired with 30 years in and I feel so different now. I did go to counseling through EAP in Ohio while I was still working. You are correct, know one knows what the employee or his/her family go through. We walked the silent beat. Society would rather not know what goes on inside our heads or what our families have to endure. Please understand, sometimes we don’t want to talk about it. I started lifting weights again and it really helps. I hunt a lot and that helps too. I guess finding a hobby with no relation at all to my work is what helped the most.

 
Female user wife of co 2 posts

With all the ptsd in the media today concerning the vets coming back from overseas, I am hoping there will be more coverage with ptsd and law enforcement ( corrections,police etc.) and more help available for these heros as well. Not only are they affected, the whole family is also affected. Where do we get help and education ? It seems there are not alot of specialists in this area and unless you are a vet,we as family members cannot find where to go to get this help. Being a wife of a retired corrections officer with ptsd, I find it difficult to understand and cope at times with what he goes through. It is a hidden disability unlike an obvious physical injury, and the unaffected population do not understand. But family members are affected and I for one want to help to understand, but where do we go?

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