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Families of the RCMP for PTSD Awareness Vision

We are driven by RCMP spouses, active and retired RCMP Members who are all PTSD survivors, with the primary commitment to ensure that the voice of RCMP Members, their families and caregivers are heard on issues relating to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Occupational Stress Injuries (OSI). We provide moral and emotional support to the Members of the RCMP and their families suffering from PTSD or OSI injury, through peer support, awareness and advocacy. We are committed to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to improve the engagement of the mental health of RCMP Members and their families within the RCMP.

“Together We are Stronger”

Tips for Coping with PTSD in the Family:

  1. Be Patient. Getting better takes time, even when a person is committed to treatment for PTSD. Be patient with the pace of recovery. It’s a process that takes time and often involves setbacks. The important thing is to stay positive and work with each other.
  2. Educate yourself about PTSD. The more you know about the symptoms, effects, and treatment options, the better equipped you’ll be to help your loved one, understand what he or she is going through, and keep things in perspective. Knowledge truly offers benefits to circumstance.
  3. Don’t pressure your loved one into talking. It can be very difficult for people with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. For some, it can even make things seem worse. Instead of trying to force it, just let them know you’re willing to listen when they’re ready. Encourage them to speak to a professional or peer support, and understand that there will be some things they feel the need to protect you from hearing.
  4. Take care of your emotional and physical health. As the saying goes, put on your own oxygen mask first. You won’t be any good to your loved one if you are burned out, sick, or exhausted. Resources for respite, counselling, peer support, and other options are evolving regularly.
  5.  Accept (and expect) mixed feelings. As you go through the emotional wringer, be prepared for a complicated mix of feelings—some of which you may not want to admit. Just remember, having negative feelings toward your family member doesn’t mean you don’t love them. Remind yourself and your family member that their injury is not a burden.

faces-of-ptsd

Visit us on Facebook 

https://www.facebook.com/FamiliesoftheRCMPforPTSDAwareness

We have private Facebook pages “Spouses Of the RCMP for PTSD Support”  &

“Members of the RCMP for PTSD Support”

Both require authorization to join, so please message the Families page for information

Visit us on Twitter

https://twitter.com/BehindRedSerge

11 thoughts on “Home

  1. Ptsd
    The dreams, loyalty, heart of a member
    Shattered
    It is insideous
    Invisible
    Enormous costs
    Families no longer
    Hope
    Sometimes the pain is too great
    Life is in question
    For what?

  2. For those who think it can’t happen to you, I also thought I was invincible but it happened to me. I understand that everyone’s experience with PTSD is different and everyone’s ability to deal with it relies heavily on how much support they have at home and at work. In my case I had worked my last day before I was diagnosed with PTSD so I can only guess how it might have affected my relationships at work. I do know that even though I was done working I still have only told two people I worked with I have PTSD in person so I can understand how much tougher it is for those still working. I also know that despite how it is viewed by government agencies I worked with PTSD for a long time and it didn’t start the date I was told I had PTSD or submitted a form. I just didn’t know it which brings me to my point; people can and are able to work even if they have PTSD. It all comes down to education and honesty by both the organization and the employee. Everyone in the organization needs to be educated on the causes, symptoms and effects of PTSD. This will improve everyone’s ability to identify PTSD early and as with every illness, the sooner it is treated the better the chance of recovery. If it wasn’t for some persistent co-workers I would likely still be trying to figure out why I feel the way I do sometimes. It has only been in the last few years PTSD has even been discussed let alone understood so even though I didn’t know why, I knew early on I had to adapt my behavior in order to cope with what I had to deal with on a daily basis and my guess is there are many others still out there. I didn’t realize why I did what I did until I started learning about PTSD in the last year, I just did it. My main coping mechanism was making myself “half angry” allowing me to feel nothing else. This enabled me to control my emotions at the worst of times and for a number of years I was able to turn it on at work and off when I wasn’t working. The other thing that happened was because I was single I was physically transferred 4 times in 4 years (10 in 33yrs overall) while I was going through this and I became very good at not letting anyone get to close to me. By the time I met my wife I had been doing this for several years so it was part of who I was for her. Over time my ability to turn it on and off diminished to the point “half angry” became my normal state. I became known as a person who never smiled and people would often show a picture of an Eagle with the caption “Bob smiling”. This also ensured people only came to me if they had to and not friendly chatter unless they knew me for a period of time, time I used to ensure they could be trusted and how much they could be trusted with. Ultimately it didn’t matter how much I trusted them but more about who they trusted. Whence my phrase; “It’s not that I don’t trust you, I just don’t trust the people you trust.” Everyone wants to be known as a good risk manager so manage your own risk, take advantage of the 6 provided psychologist visits each year (or what your organization provides) as a first step even if you only talk about the weather (you don’t have to post it on facebook). You have nothing to lose and even if you don’t have any issues they can provide you with strategies to mitigate the risk of you incurring one. Consider it preventative maintenance. Ask yourself, would you rather fight the fire or prevent the fire, investigate the accident or prevent the accident, treat the broken leg or prevent the broken leg? I guarantee every first responder would rather prevent the things they deal with from happening than deal with them. Take it from someone who’s been there and do the same for yourself. If nothing else this will give you one more support person should you ever need one.

  3. I was going through some boxes from work in my garage and found an article from “The Police Chief/November 1989” titled “Helping Subordinates Face Stress”. The article was written by Dr. Joseph F. Dietrich, Chief, Member Assistance Program with RCMP Health Services originally published in 1988. I will not re-write the entire article but highlite what they knew then. “The pain of police work”; The pain of police work referred to as occupational stress, is well documented in the literature. Several authors have described the stressors that have been found to develop from the burden of police work and the repitive facing of crime, suffering and death. These four occupational stressors are: 1. Depersonalization, 2. Authoritarianism, 3. Organizational Protection, 4. Danger Preperation. Each stressor is followed by a description/definition that describes the symptoms of PTSD. The article also includes the following; “The Progression” 1. 0-5 years: Alienation from the nonpolice world. 2. 5-10 years: Emotional Shutdown. 3. 10-15 years: Emotional unsureness. 4. 15-20 years: Namelessness. 20-35 years; Maintaining the Status Quo. Again each is followed by a description which lists more symptoms of PTSD. The article goes on to list “Coping Mechanisms”: 1. Cynicism, 2. Secrecy, big surprise there. The article then covers “The role of health programs”, “Management Training”, “Management Leadership”, “The Manager as a Sounding Board” which ends with ” Supervisors can provide powerful “sounding boards” so their subordinates don’t always have to suppress these paoinful emotions. Suppressed anger becomes frustraion; suppressed fear turns to anxiety; suppressed sorrow turns into isolation and loneliness; and suppressed hatred of evil turns into depression when the officer begins to despise their own inability to destroy the evil they have experienced.” and “Implications for the Police Supervisor” which it sates are; “It is the police supervisor’s responsibility to be an educator for his/her subordinates. The supervisor may not always agree with personnel, but they can emphasize much needed support and offer assurances that they will share their experiences and burdens, assist them with mutual eoncerns and keep alive their hope that progress and personal growth is possible.” I do not remember where I got the article or why I kept it but finding it now, 26 years later makes me even more angry at the system and realize despite how it affects me, I need to let everyone know this is not new and and the “Cynicism” and “Secrecy” needs to end.

    • Nicely written Bob, thanks for talking about your experience with PTSD. Food for thought to a great deal of our membership and others with this illness, whether they are emergency personnel or not.

  4. Thanks to all of you for stepping forward courageously doiong what is essential to acknowledge the “elephant in the room” and to serve and save others. As a law enforcement chaplain I regularly see the need. Well done!!

  5. Just when you think you can leave the past behind it comes back to slap you in the face. 10 years have gone by and it was before I was aware of PTSD. My actions then continue to be revisited by family (on occasion) when you least expect it. Believe me if I could change things I would and there isn’t a day goes by that I don’t regret the decisions I made then. Even more so knowing the people that convinced me work was more important than family were playing me like a fiddle. Choosing work over family never goes away because once you are done work you are quickly forgotten while your family is still there if you are lucky. For those still working, if your supervisors and peers are telling you work is a priority and your family will understand don’t make the same mistake I did, it is bs with a capital B. Once the organization gets what they want, they will leave you to pick up the pieces if you can find them. I was lucky even though days like this make it hard to believe. At least I have a family to give me days like this rather than the bottom of a bottle or worse. Sorry for the rant. Please take care. “you’re never wrong to do the right thing.”

  6. Relative Cost of Mental Health
    I have previously posted my belief RCMP employees should be required to see a psychologist of their choice as part of RCMP “Mandatory” medicals. One barrier to this that always comes up is the cost so I thought I would provide some context as to what the cost would be and how insignificant it actually is compared to the amount of funding the RCMP receives and costs of having employees “Off Duty Sick” and on “Graduated Return to Work”. Before all the purists start to comment “I don’t understand the complexity of Treasury Board Funding Policies”, I want to make it very clear I served at a level and in positions where I was required not only to understand “Treasury Board Rules” but Provincial Funding Policies under the “Provincial Policing Services Agreement (PPSA)” as well. I do not represent this as a comprehensive study on the topic because it isn’t (I did it in a couple of hours). I do believe what follows accurately illustrates the financial burden to provide mental health services to every employee is not as financially overwhelming as RCMP Senior Management suggests. As we all know, getting facts from the RCMP is difficult so I obtained the following excerpts from on-line Quarterly Reports and Audits:
    “The RCMP achieved Budget 2012 savings of $44.4 million in 2012-13. Savings increased to $89.1 million for 2013-14 and will reach the on-going savings target of $195.2 million in 2014-15 (inclusive of employee benefit plan costs). These savings are being accomplished with minimal impacts on direct policing operations.
    The period ending December 31, 2013 marks the second year of Budget 2012 implementation and the RCMP is preparing for the third and final year when its reference levels will be reduced to the full savings target of $195.2 million. Some key initiatives include:
    • Health Care Modernization – The RCMP is modernizing its Health Services program through an amendment to the definition of an “insured person” under the Canada Health Act (received Royal Assent on June 29, 2012). As of April 1, 2013, basic health care coverage for regular members is now under provincial/territorial regimes. The RCMP anticipates significant reductions in basic health care expenditures in 2013-14, with full savings associated to the initiative being realized in 2014-15. Savings in expenditures is evident upon review of standard object 4, which is reflecting a $25.8 million year-over-year reduction, largely attributed to this DRAP initiative.
    • In 2013-14
    o Operating Budget Carry Forward is $53.1 million higher in 2013-14 when compared to 2012-13. In 2012-13, the RCMP received $101.2 million through TB Central Vote transfer, whereas in 2013-14 the RCMP received $154.3 million in funding.”

    On September 1st, 2015 there were 28,461 employees in the RCMP. If you multiply that by $160.00, the hourly cost of a Psychologist in the province I reside it would cost $4,553,760.00 annually or $2,276,880.00 if included as part of mandatory medicals every two years. This is less than 1/5th of the $25.8 million year-over-year reduction achieved through the Health Care Modernization noted above.
    In February of 2014 the Final Report on the “Audit of Long – Term Sick Leave” was released and below is the Table with respect to Graduated Return to Work. The review used 4 Divisions for Audit purposes. (www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/aud-ver/reports-rapports/lts-cmld-eng.htm)
    As shown in Table 1 below, notwithstanding the lack of complete and accurate information in HRMIS, for the divisions tested GRW timelines were significantly higher than standard:
    Table 1 – Average period for members reported GRW as at March 1, 2013:
    Division #GRW on HRMIS Average # Months
    1 7 7.1
    2 187 9.4
    3 39 7.1
    4 28 7.5
    Total 261 7.78

    Considering it was reported in 2010 that “E” Division had over 200 members on Long Term Sick Leave it is unlikely it is one of the Divisions included in the Audit so lets’ use the hypothetical scenario of 800 members annually on ODS for 2 months or 1/6th of a year prior to coming back on GRW with the Cst. salary of $39/hr. RCMP members are paid for 2,087 hours per year, so 2 months represents 348 hrs or $13,572 in salary. If you multiply that by 800 members which would be a conservative estimate, the cost is $10,857,600 or more than double the cost of having each employee see a psychologist once a year.
    No, I am not naive enough to believe seeing a psychologist once a year is going to eliminate Operational Stress Injuries (OSI”s) but it would go a long way to preventing/mitigating not only OSI’s but a number of other issues related to mental health. It would also check off a box on every Commissioned Officers ”Performance Agreement” which seems to be the primary (if not the only) reason for doing things in today’s environment. This simple action would provide employees with an additional resource (maybe their only resource in some cases) in the eventuality they do suffer an OSI, provide them with an opportunity to develop strategies to increase resiliency to OSI’s early thereby reducing the long term effects and above all promote and educate everyone on mental health.
    The RCMP Mental Health Strategy 2014-2019 listed the following as key areas:
    (www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/fam/strat-eng.htm)
    Our focus
    The strategy focuses on five key areas:
    1. Promotion
    2. Education
    3. Prevention
    4. Early detection and intervention
    5. Continuous improvement.

    The requirement for employees to see a psychologist as part of mandatory medicals addresses all 5. The cost everyone is so concerned about in all likelihood would be recovered multiple times over through reduced ODS and GRW. I am not one to write the Public Safety Minister, Provincial Justice Minister or the Commissioner as you are quickly labelled a “disgruntled employee”, “uniformed” or “trouble maker” and I am none of them. I visited a former colleague the other day and he told me I was too “passionate” about the force when I was working and I am still too “passionate” about it. I like everyone else served proudly and despite the pitfalls of certain individuals within the organization there are a far greater number of employees (past and present) who are as passionate as I am and if we all stand together change on this issue is possible. Yes, there is a significant cost to providing mental health services but there is a far greater cost to “not providing mental health services”. Above all, maybe there won’t be a next time someone feels they have no option other than to sacrifice their own life.

    S/Sgt. R.T. Miller (retired)

  7. Thank you for caring. I am a 29 yeat veteran of the Force. I was diagnosed with ptsd 19 months ago. I have been completely abandoned by the Force. I was advised that my medical profile had changed to an 06 in an email.

    Take care

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