America has learned very little since the conclusion of the Vietnam W
ar. In 1975 when our troops came home, people hated them for doing the job many did not have the courage for or stomach to endure. The result was many soldiers with post-traumatic stress that resulted in suicides, substance abuse, and families disintegrating.
Now, almost a half-century later, some people have found a new target to hate: police officers. Yes, the ones who worked through the pandemic without rest and still are working long hours and heavy shifts. The same ones who endured unimaginable hatred and vitriol from protestors intent on anarchy or unsettling our democracy through violence. It was not only at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. These same officers are tireless advocates for justice, uphold the Constitution, and police fairly. They were spat on, told their children would be killed and partners raped, yet they endured. Stoically. Dispassionately. Professionally. Under immense provocation, they held their heads high and shined their badges.
After we as a nation realized our actions drove the pain deep into the soul of our brothers and sisters returning home from the war, the tide changed, and we chose to see things differently. MIA bracelets popped up. America began to thank soldiers for their sacrifice; respect and civility grew. People learned to separate the war from the warrior. Some warriors healed. For others who served, it was too late.
“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.”
America, it’s time for us to welcome home our cops and recognize the immense stress we have placed our police officers under. Many of our officers are fighting PTSD from the incidents we have asked them to handle. Our officers cannot unsee the carnage they experience or unlive the torment they suffer on our behalf. Your cops tuck their trauma away in the recesses of their minds only for it to seep out when the pain becomes excruciating.
We can help our heroes heal. Sadly, for some, it is too late. It is believed 178 California police officers took their lives. That does not include the thousands who drank themselves into oblivion. They did not know how to cope.
The Palm Springs Police Department is embarking on implementing a robust wellness program. Two sergeants, Jon Cabrera and Kyle Stjerne have taken the lead. Other staff members will soon join in creating a wellness program designed to improve physical, emotional, social, financial, spiritual, and intellectual health. PSPD will do its part by increasing opportunities to warm down after work, improve fitness and ensure they are ready to protect this wonderful city.
You too can help. When you see one of our cops, say thanks. Your acknowledgment and gratitude mean the world to them.