Proactive Approach
Needed to Fight PTSD
by Bob Delaney
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

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

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.
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.
Police Author
Bob Delaney

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