As veterans return home after serving in the Middle East, the nation is becoming increasingly aware of post-traumatic stress injury.
PTSI affects millions of vets and significantly boosts the risk of depression, suicide, and drug- and alcohol-related deaths.
On top of that, for the veterans struggling with PTSI, it can lead to more run-ins with police.
That’s why the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency has joined forces with the Michigan State Police, county and local law enforcement, and the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University.
Together they’ve created a video that will guide police on how to interact with veterans struggling with PTSI.
According to Jeff Barnes, director of the MVAA, as many as 70,000 post-9/11 veterans live in Michigan, and he expects that number to double in five years.
“What we wanted to do with the video was expose responders to the symptoms of PTS so that they could recognize it, but also let them know that there are resources available they can direct the veteran to,” Barnes says.
Barnes says every officer in the state will have access to the video, and that it will be distributed during roll call training.
Alongside the video, officers will receive a number of resource cards that they will carry, containing contact information that can help veterans struggling with PTS reach out to existing support networks.
Michigan State Police Trooper Todd Waite says PTS rarely comes into play during police interactions with veterans, but when it does the key to defusing the situation is to recognize it and slow it down.
“A lot of our job is reaction-based,” Waite says. “Veterans are obviously trained to react as well, and when you get two opposing sides reacting so quickly to each other, it can quickly spin out of control.”
“It’s all about just recognizing situations and slowing it down as fast as you can,” he tells us.
The MVAA is promoting fireworks-free Fourth of July celebrations this weekend for Michigan’s veterans and others who prefer a calmer holiday. Celebrations will be held in several parks and campgrounds around Michigan.
More information about the MVAA as well as helpful resources for Michigan veterans can be found by calling 1-800-MICH-VET or by visiting their website.