Survey: Twice as many correctional officers suffer from PTSD as military veterans

34 percent of officers who responded to the survey reported suffering from symptoms of PTSD

By C1 Staff

DENVER — A survey conducted by the Desert Waters Correctional Outreach nonprofit found that more than twice the number of correctional officers than military veterans suffer from PTSD.

The Guardian reports that 34 percent of officers who responded to the survey reported suffering from symptoms of PTSD, such as repeated flashbacks of traumatic incidents, hypervigilance, insomnia, suicidal thoughts and alienation. Only fourteen percent of military veterans report suffering the same symptoms.

Correctional officer suicide rates are 39 percent higher than all other professions combined, according to a national study.  

Officers reported that they were taught to deal with stress by “leaving it at the gate,” according to former correctional officer Michael Morgan, who was previously with the Oregon State Penitentiary.

Most officers avoid a PTSD diagnosis because they’re afraid of negative repercussions on their careers; they believe they’ll be put through a “fit for duty” test with a state psychologist and be decertified.

Officers with the Oregon State Penitentiary are making examples of themselves in an attempt to change the taboo associated with PTSD.

Michael Van Patten went public with his suicide attempt in 2013, creating a video of himself and his son talking about the event and screening it during a training session. Morgan was pulled over for drunk driving in 2010 and was eventually decertified due to multiple charges.

He is now the co-facilitator of a mental health training program at the facility.

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