May 20, 2022

Deputy Matt & Others Who Serve

The individual voices and opinions of some first responders

An Important Conversation About Cops, Soldiers, PTSD and Suicide

There is a private group on Facebook that a number of us who run law enforcement related pages belong to. We use it to discuss all sorts of things that we cannot talk about in public, from stupid jokes to stressful things going on in our own lives or with our own agencies. Not every member is a cop. Some are former cops, some are cop spouses, some are just highly outspoken supporters of law enforcement. Cops generally get other cops, but these folks also understand all the other crap that comes along with running a pro-LE social media page, the good and the bad. It truly is one of my favorite places in all of social media.

Every once in a while, a conversation in that group touches on something extremely important and should be shared publicly. The following fairly long conversation is one of those. I am sharing with the permission of the members who wrote these remarks, although most of their names have been removed for privacy.

Be forewarned, this was originally a private conversation between cops and warriors not intended for the public, so the language is raw. I chose to leave it that way because that is real life, and cops and warriors all know and accept that.

Landon Steele: (In sharing this ^^^ news article about two vets killing themselves at two different VA facilities in Georgia)

Goes double for you (cops). No deployments. You deploy everyday. I’m at a homeless shelter for vets and these guys are bitching about the VA. You guys/ ladies don’t get shit.

Longest rant ever. Been asked about this a few times today by several veterans on the ranch. Here’s my take.

Most vets aren’t fucked up because of some shit they saw or did, they’re fucked up for a few other reasons. They were sent to war by a society that abhors violence to the point squirt guns for a 5 year old is bright orange and the taking of it to school will get a call for SWAT. However that same society can’t get enough killing and war on Netflix.

Strange right?

So these young warfighers come back from the military (not combat necessarily) where they literally were taught to be appropriately violent, as are a lot of healthy, functional societies and that tribe is now gone.

They don’t miss war or killing or any of that shit, they miss the closeness of the tribe. Gender, race, sexual preference didn’t matter because their life depended on everyone in their tribe.

Now they come home after fighting the LONGEST fucking war in American history and their tribe is gone.

To add insult to injury they return to a society that doesn’t have a roll in what they did in war as the native Americans did, or Israelis do, because everyone in those societies had to fight so everyone understands and PTS was, or is, pretty much non-existent. But in America its kinda assumed now that if you did some shit overseas you must have the PTSDAIDS so eventually troops think they do.

There’s nothing wrong with our troops, there’s something really fucked up about what they come back to.

The VA is the largest medical system in the US, funded by people who voted for politicians who literally wish we would all go away. Over worked, underfunded. The employees at the VA for the most part are vets or civilians who literally care beyond words, but the system is dicked up because our society is dicked up.

Notice I didn’t say anything was wrong with America because we still have enough people who knowingly sacrifice their safety or lives and fully expect not to get a fair health deal after.

Before we point the veteran finger of righteousness at the VA, let’s look at who funds them, who did you vote for?

When we fix us as a society then the VA won’t have these issues. In the interim, your best, brightest and most motivation Americans will be killing themselves because we ALL failed them.

Landon Steele: I would say there are compounding factors that actually make your (cops’) current job harder and reintegration harder because it’s every time you get off shit, not a 6 or 9 month break. You roll two deep or alone so it’s gotta be more fucked then when I worked.

“AJ”: There’s just so much wrong with America right now. The entire United States focus is on sexual identity, racial tension, and police brutality.

Day in and day out I see mental health problems. Often I see veterans who have been pushed back and back over and over by the VA, and they aren’t allowed to see any other MD or psych. Men are stubborn. If you push us back enough times we just say fuck it and fix it on our own, which is resulting in all of these suicides by military and LE. 

There’s so many options, but those options get burned out so fast because once an option opens, everyone flocks to them because in the beginning they actually give a damn about patients. Govt. needs to realize the mental health issues we have right now and throw triple the amount of money into the pot because it is rapidly becoming a life and death issue for them, and people they want with them. Never did you hear about suicide by cop until the last 10 or so years. Now it’s almost daily.

Landon Steele: bro, what fucks me up is my guys (soldiers) not being able to do it and do crazy shit on purpose to get blue (cops) to shoot them. It fucks the officer up when they find out why the weapon was empty. It’s the same team. Bridging that gap is huge and problematic. (emphasis added by me)

“AJ”: Yep. And it blows bringing them in for a psych and the doc releasing them, only to get re-dispatched to that residence days later to them with their skull in pieces dead. These people specializing in mental health fail these people daily because they reject the “maybes” cause all the fucking facilities are full

Landon Steele: Why there isn’t a med system for LEO or a preventative clause that says just because an officer has PTS doesn’t mean the chief can pull your shit?

Me (Matt): I never served in the military, but I think you might be onto something brother. As for cops, I’ve said the same thing. We don’t get a 6 month deployment, we are deployed for our entire career, and being in condition orange all the time is not good for you. It helps you survive the day, but in the long run, that level of heightened awareness for extended periods of time is very bad for the human body and mind.

LT: Hits home Matt. I was in D.C. for police week few years ago. In D.C. I found that I couldn’t relax, even in the company of cops, because I was in fucking D.C.

I couldn’t relax enough to sleep thinking someone was going to break in the house we rented or steal my car parked in the alley. I was on vacation surrounded by my own team and was basically standing sentry the whole time. It robbed me of actually enjoying police week.

“KD” (a cop’s wife): The only place I’ve ever seen my husband (the cop) completely relax was vacationing with our son at Shades of Green; 100% ID check and a closed campus was a whole new world. It was amazing.

“Paddy”: I did all 3…

Military (didn’t do shit- peacetime Army).

Cop (saw my fair share)

PMC (private military contractor) in Iraq (on the road or taking IDF every day)

Came back seriously fucked up- physically and mentally. What kept me together (barely at times) was the brotherhood.

Men & women I knew calling up randomly to say hi and see how I was doing. I did the same for them. All of us were a bit off- but it didn’t matter.

Guy named Boone Cutler before he came up with the Spartan Pledge coined another term:

Unassimilated Warfighter (emphasis added)

It resonated with me and addresses the societal issues anyone who runs towards gunfire deals with.

We are our own society, our own class, and we look after our own. We have our own codes of behavior, our own ethical standards, our own moral standards. 

IMO fitting into modern society and culture, or trying to, is a bad thing. Square pegs in round holes. Modern society is diametrically opposed to the values most of us hold.

Individual accountability, personal responsibility, honor, loyalty, steadfastness… these words at best have no meaning for society at large and at worst are derided and mocked.

They hate us because we don’t care about race, religion, sexuality, or gender. Our only metrics are “Can we trust you” and “Are you squared away”.

We look down on those who seek to play the victim, to portray themselves as weak as possible. Society celebrates them and makes them heroes.

Fuck that noise.

Honest question: Would the average Veteran, cop, firefighter, or medic ever come up with “I was out and two guys who voted for someone else beat me up- feel sorry for me”?

Now if I said would we come up with “I was out and got jumped by 4 dudes and I knocked them all smooth the fuck out”…. 😂

Shit- after Trump got elected there was a 17% spike in “hate crime” attributable to false reports.

I think that a lot of the stressors (outside of financial ones) come from trying to fit into a society that stands opposed to what we carry in our souls, who we are as human beings.

When I finally realized that my society consists of those who have walked the line, not the whining bunch of intersectional dipshits that colleges churn out, shit started getting better.

“Chuy”: Damn Bro, This.^^^

Me: No fucking shit, Chuy! You (Paddy) need to post that somewhere that I can share it on my page.

In fact, the combo of yours and Landon’s should be a blog post somewhere (after that, they all gave me permission to copy and paste it here)

“KD”: Most ancient and tribal societies had a warrior class; they weren’t expected to be ‘like everyone else’ when they weren’t in the thick of the fight. It’s like expecting a high drive Malinois to *also* be a Golden Retriever the minute the harness comes off.

We’ve been so safe here, for so long, society has lost touch with why you’re needed. It’s why Kipling wrote ‘Tommy’, in 1890.

And Landon, I’ve seen you defending LE on other threads when their experience is minimized and belittled, and I appreciate you so much for that.

I honestly believe this is a very important conversation that needs to be shared both with soldiers and cops. We don’t have the same jobs, but we do have the same kind of brotherhood. We are all on the same side, and we need to look out for one another. That starts with recognizing what causes the problems we both face, which is essentially the same problem: modern society does not want us, does not want to be reminded we exist, and we generally don’t fit in. 

In my opinion, and clearly that of some others, that is what is causing the very high suicide rate among soldiers and cops.

(For those wondering who Landon Steele is, he is not a cop. He is a US combat medic, PMC, and has worked private, armed security in conjunction with cops. If you don’t know who he is, it might be worth a google… Plus, there is this video.)