Day in and day out, cops see everything from abused kids and spouses to gunshot wounds and fatal car accidents. They serve and protect, and approach each day at work not knowing what they will see–only knowing that they are determined to take care of the public at large and the many issues we create. A routine traffic stop can turn into a car chase, a shop-lifting call can end in gun-fire. How do you cope with that level of trauma on an everyday basis?
What trauma creates
Trauma, especially the level and severity that officers see, can create everything from depression to anxiety. It can result in nightmares, hypervigilance, substance abuse and eating disorders.
It can create relationship issues, isolation and suicidal thoughts. Trauma short-circuits the brain and literally re-wires it. It’s no surprise that first-responders are often victims of its ravages.
So, what happens when a cop needs times away? What happens when a cop becomes immobilized by the symptoms of Post traumatic Stress Disorder?
Anyone who works–and is not self-employed–is covered by workers’ compensation. Workers’ comp covers lost wages and medical bills due to injuries incurred on the job. Is PTSD a work related injury for cops and other first-responders? You bet it is.
Worker’s comp for cops
Often, however, misinformation, or a sense that PTSD just comes with the job, keeps officers from seeking the help they need. Like soldiers in the military, there may be a cultural suspicion for those who seek counseling or medication to help them cope with their symptoms.
While it may be frowned upon within the ranks, nothing is more important than the mental health of our community, and that includes the people who daily put their life on the line for us.
If you find that you are experiencing the symptoms listed above, seek help and seek the counsel of a workers’ comp attorney. Even if your symptoms are mild, you owe it to yourself, and your family, to get the intervention you need to remain healthy.
No one deserves to live with the effects of trauma, and this is especially so for those who have made a commitment to society at large. After they have helped us for so long, it is our duty to help them in return.