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Police Author
Bob Delaney
Proactive Approach Needed to
Fight PTSD
by Bob Delaney
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Surviving the Shadows is a gripping and insightful
exploration of PTSD, which has risen to crisis levels
and is an issue Delaney knows firsthand. He
developed the condition as a young New Jersey
State Trooper in the mid-1970s, following a landmark,
three-year undercover investigation of the
Genovese and Bruno crime families.  That
experience was chronicled in the critically acclaimed
2008 book,
Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob,
co-authored by national award-winning journalist
Dave Scheiber and named one of the best books of
the year by USA Today.
Bob Delaney is a former New Jersey state trooper and
former NBA referee for 25 years, retiring in June 2011.
He was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service
Award from President Obama and the U.S. Army
Outstanding Civilian Service Medal for his PTS/PTSD
education and awareness work.
From New Jersey State Trooper
to NBA Referee
Post-traumatic stress disorder has become a daily
discussion in our society, due to the ravages and
ripple effects of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The
syndrome has risen to epidemic proportions, with
returning troops dealing with PTSD in record
numbers and military suicide rates rising. In spite of
all that, we are still in the infant stages of fully
understanding the syndrome — one that is not
simply a military crisis but a human condition that
has been an accepted medical diagnosis only for the
past 30 years.

I developed PTSD as a young New Jersey state
trooper after working a long-term undercover
investigation infiltrating the mob in the mid-1970s.
My personal post-traumatic stress journey
produced all the classic symptoms — paranoia,
isolation, hypervigilance, thirst for revenge and fits
of anger.

I was like most who wear a uniform and serve: I
liked to think of myself as being able to leap tall
buildings in a single bound, with the mind-set that I
can handle it. Cops, firefighters, emergency first
responders and members of the military see and
experience things most people never do. The
images of war on foreign soil or graphic scenes on
the streets of Hometown, USA, are seared into their
brains. Sights, smells, sounds or anniversary dates
can trigger that past experience and cause them to
relive the pain over and over.

I have been speaking about post-traumatic stress
before those who serve us for more than a quarter
century and sharing what I believe is the most
effective first step in combating PTSD: peer-to-peer
therapy. I know that it works — it did for me, and I
have seen it work countless times.

A month after the horrific shootings that took place
at Fort Hood in 2009, I was invited there to speak
with troops, law enforcement officers and civilians
affected by the trauma. I shared this core belief:
Cops need to talk to cops, firefighters to
firefighters, soldiers to soldiers, combat spouses to
combat spouses, and combat moms and dads to
combat moms and dads. Each traumatic experience
is our own; however, speaking with someone who
has gone through a similar experience allows us to
validate our feelings.

We need a national PTS education and awareness
program. We have been approaching this condition
in reverse order — waiting for PTS to become PTSD,
then trying to treat it with traditional methods.
Medication and sessions with psychiatrists can be
vital steps, but not necessarily the first step. I hear
it from the men and women serving us. They are
reluctant to seek professional help due to the
stigma attached to PTSD. And too often, meds
leave them in a stupor and do not get to the root
of the problem. This is where education and
awareness programs would have an impact, similar
to the way they have with HIV/AIDS, drugs, alcohol
and tobacco.

It is time to embrace new, innovative approaches to
the problem, 21st century therapies such as Ride 2
Recovery, a long-distance bicycling program; Vets
Prevail, which offers confidential online help for
veterans suffering from PTSD; Quantum Leap Farm,
where horses serve as therapy partners; Operation
Proper Exit, which brings injured vets back to the
scene of their combat injuries to confront the
emotional wounds; and West Coast Post-trauma
Retreat, a confidential program that allows cops and
first responders to get repressed turmoil into the
open.

On Sept. 11 this year, I took part in the 9/11 Ride 2
Recovery. Some 350 bicycle riders departed Liberty
State Park across the Hudson River from Ground
Zero, pedaled over hills and long stretches of
asphalt to Shanksville, Pa., and then rode to the
Pentagon. Our trip took us to all three terrorist
attack sites in eight days, and along the way, great
Americans were greeted and cared for by other
great Americans. We honored the victims and
acknowledged the Wounded Warriors who have
been at war for the past 10 years. And meaningful
peer-to-peer therapy took place in a nontraditional
way.

My new book, "Surviving the Shadows: A Journey of
Hope Into Post-Traumatic Stress" (Sourcebooks),
co-authored with journalist Dave Scheiber, tells
stories of brave individuals in law enforcement, the
military and everyday life who have made strides in
recovering from PTSD, doctors engaged in
pioneering treatments and the ripple affect of
trauma on families. You may see similarities with
friends or loved ones in these stories — or yourself.
The point is, there is a way out of the shadows.

We have grown as a nation from the Vietnam War
era and understand we have an obligation to
support our troops. While we have a national
financial debt, we also have a national debt to the
men and women who serve. We owe them, too.
That must be our call to arms in helping those
suffering from PTSD, where the deepest wounds
are often the ones we can’t see.
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Copyright © 2018  Barry M. Baker  
CareerPoliceOfficer.com
Bob Delaney's passion is helping victims of
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Bob has presented
before numerous conferences on Post Traumatic
Stress education & awareness.  He has shared the
message with members of law enforcement, military,
firefighters and emergency service workers for the
past three decades.  His life experiences provide a
unique perspective on the leadership process and the
impact trauma plays in our lives.  He was embedded
with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009, 2010 and
2012.
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