|Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Correctional Officers|
|By Kevin E. Bedore , Canadian Federal Correctional Officer|
Evil has a special poison that disseminates onto all of us. It is called PTSD….
PTSD is something that you hear of a lot about these days. We are living in a violent, threatening and seemingly heartless world that seems to be getting worse, not better despite the democracy warriors have died fighting to achieve and maintain.
“…remember PTSD is the gift that keeps on giving. It impacts not only you in the years to come, but also your spouse and your kids. So now, ahead of time, while you are calm and rational think it through…”
from On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace – by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman with Loren W. Christensen.
We can all be affected by it to some degree, some more than others, but the warrior by nature of his/her role gets an extra dose of it. It can strike in the aftermath of accidents, natural tragedy or in the wake of aggression as is in the case in law enforcement. The solder warrior, law enforcement warrior, common person and sadly our children all suffer from its evil.
Mental health professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association. This is the generic and universally accepted standard of diagnostic for this disorder. Below is a disturbing much more specific piece of information that identifies the alarming findings of a joint study conducted involving Canadian Correctional Officers.
Correctional Officers in Canada and PTSD
“The occurrence, and the effects, of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among Correctional staff are well documented. For example, in her research of exposure to critical incidents and their effects on Canadian Correctional Officers, Lois Rosine found that 17% of the officers interviewed experienced effects severe enough to be diagnosed to be suffering from PTSD. This figure is considerably higher than the 1% in the general population and approaches the 20% level found in Vietnam War veteran. Rosine’s findings also discount the common belief that individuals become hardened to critical incidents over time. This helps to validate the concept of the cumulative impact of such incidents on correctional officers.”
From JOINT COMMITTEE REPORT ON FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS – CORRECTIONAL SERVICE OF CANADA – APRIL 2000 JOINT STUDY.
It has long been established that soldiers are the elite of warriors. The law enforcement profession has honourably been extended this title of valour. Would you ever have imagined that the incidents of PTSD in correctional facilities are that closely related to a piece of military history that was one of the bloodiest, most horrific and notorious periods of our modern history? It opened my eyes that the correctional warrior must take these types of statistics seriously. I have seen many a fellow officer suffer the effects of PTSD to varying degrees along my way through this career. Sadly many don’t see it in themselves, they just don’t understand how horrible they feel and can’t (or won’t) seem to get better. Worse yet they deny themselves of seeking the help that they so desperately need to get better.
Editor's note: Corrections.com author, Kevin E. Bedore has 28 years experience in law enforcement, 23 as a Canadian Federal Correctional Officer. He began writing as a form of personal therapy to combat the negative effects that the correctional environment was having on him. He then realized that he had discovered something truly amazing that definitely needed to be shared with other officers facing the same challenges he had.
Other articles by Kevin Bedore
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT