Sunday, January 25, 2009

Badge of Life

Editor's Note: The information presented on PTSD is applicable to military personnel.

On February 13, 2009, Conversations with Heroes at the Watering Hole will feature a discussion Sergeant Andy O’Hara, California Highway Patrol (ret.), Executive Director of The Badge of Life.

Program Date: February 13, 2009
Program Time: 2100 hours, Pacific
Topic: The Badge of Life

About the Badge of Life
According to The Badge of Life, they “are a group of active and retired
police officers from the United States and Canada who are victims of trauma-related injuries from our law enforcement service. We have suffered the worst that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) brings—the hopelessness, the despair, the flashbacks, the attempts at suicide, the nightmares and insomnia, the panicky hypervigilence, anxiety and terror. Among us are victims of both critical incident and cumulative PTSD.

Our personal experiences are varied and representative of what occurs in police work—shootings, violent attacks, the loss of fellow officers, near-death experiences, helplessly watching the death of a child, and more. We were drawn together out of a determination to help others avoid our fate. With the help of experts in the field like
John Violanti, PhD (author of Police Suicide, Epidemic in Blue and Under the Blue Shadow), Dr. Janak Mehtani, an expert on PTSD and Catherine Leon, LCSW, who has worked extensively with PTSD and law enforcement, we began to set a path.

We found that many departments still lack adequate suicide prevention programs. We found many departments have excellent programs—but limit themselves to suicide awareness and prevention. Our program came after long discussion and research--and the realization that, in the search for complex answers, we were all missing the simple solutions! Thus came about the Badge of Life program--a common sense approach to law enforcement stress and trauma that stunned even us by its utter simplicity.

About the Guest
Sergeant Andy O'Hara,
California Highway Patrol (ret.) is a military veteran and the Executive Director of The Badge of Life. According to Sergeant O’Hara, he “spent his last day of law enforcement sitting on the bedroom floor with his gun, trying to decide whether to shoot himself in the mouth or side of the head. Hospitalized twice with the effects of his post traumatic stress, he has written on this topic and spoken to numerous groups about the importance of this new program. Through those presentations, he has realized how well received and effective the message truly is. He is a member of the California Peer Support Association, the International Police Association and works as a peer volunteer with the West Coast Post-Trauma Retreat.

About the Watering Hole
The Watering Hole is
police slang for a location cops go off-duty to blow off steam and talk about work and life. Sometimes funny; sometimes serious; but, always interesting.

About the Host
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the Los Angeles Police Department for 24 years. He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant. He holds a bachelor’s from the Union Institute and University in
Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, has completed his doctoral course work. Raymond E. Foster has been a part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and Fresno; and is currently a Criminal Justice Department chair, faculty advisor and lecturer with the Union Institute and University. He has experience teaching upper division courses in law enforcement, public policy, law enforcement technology and leadership. Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One. He has appeared on the History Channel and radio programs in the United States and Europe as subject matter expert in technological applications in law enforcement.

Listen, call, join us at the Watering Hole.

Program Contact Information
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA