We are approaching the end of 2019, and with that comes the stress of the holidays. As our children and loved ones begin decorating for all the holiday festivities, we law enforcement professionals may be feeling a sense of unease. That’s because we sometimes have a tough time dealing with all the stress this time of year brings. Whether it is work, family, caring for parents, budgeting, shopping or any other topics that concern you, you need to know there are people who can help.
I think one of the most underutilized benefits we have through the Health and Welfare Trust is our Behavioral Healthcare Options (BHO), or counseling benefits. I know as officers we try to compartmentalize a lot of issues, but sometimes doing that can result in things like anger, overindulging in alcohol, excessive use of prescription drugs or engaging in other activities or behaviors that we feel might “take away the pain.” The law enforcement profession is a very stressful profession. We see and do things that keep us up at night — things we probably wish we didn’t have to see or relive, but it is there. Dealing with these issues in a healthy, productive way is far more effective than turning to the bottle to self-medicate. Take the time to explore the benefits you have available to you. Contact Kelly Taylor, our Health and Welfare Trust administrator, and have her walk you through everything you have at your disposal.
In addition, please do not forget the new legislative change as it relates to PTSD. I have known officers who have shared stories with military troops who have been deployed in war zones, and the troops say the officers have probably been exposed to far more than they ever have. If you find yourself on a call or incident where something is very disturbing to you, fill out the paperwork to document the issue. LVMPD, more than likely, will deny the claim, but it starts the ball rolling on a potential future claim, should you need it. Like most things, if you don’t have it documented, it didn’t happen. Take the time to fill out the paperwork. If you need help, reach out to any of the Board members for assistance.
I guess, in the end, the point of this article is to let you know that if you are struggling and do not know where to turn, there are people who can help. Don’t be afraid to seek out the help you need. There is something I tell all of the new officers at the Academy when we get the opportunity to present to them. I say to them: “This is a wonderful and great career; however, if this job drives you to the point of thinking about hurting yourself, you need to get out.” This career is not worth your life. We are seeing an alarming number of our brothers and sisters taking their lives across the country. Nothing can replace a father, mother, brother, sister, child or friend. The grief you leave behind could be something those people never recover from. If this describes you, go get help. If you don’t know where to turn, call me directly.
I’d like to close by dedicating this article to my father, retired LVMPD officer Jerry Grammas, P# 2331. He passed away suddenly in September. You’ll be forever missed but always remembered, Pop.
Have a great holiday season and thank you all for your membership. Stay safe.