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Learning from the case of Marine veteran James Brower

The NYPD has been, on the whole, a generous veteran employer

In a high-profile case in 2010, the New York Police Department (NYPD) reportedly prevented Marine veteran James Brower from returning to full street duty after he said he had “experienced combat flashbacks,” despite the fact that a medical board reportedly determined he was fit for duty.

The NYPD’s position was that they had discovered that he lied on his original application and failed to disclose a previously diagnosed mental health issue (Attention Deficit Disorder when he was 9-years-old).

The situation, which is a bit more complicated than these reports suggest, quickly mushroomed into political controversy.

Other news stories claim the NYPD has been systematically discriminating against applicants that have reported even the most minor PTSD symptoms to the military (see here and here).

It’s likely these reports are inaccurate as the NYPD has been, on the whole, a generous veteran employer. Though the NYPD often receives a high degree of public scrutiny and criticism from multiple press sources, their challenges in dealing with veteran applicants are probably not unique.

As pressure mounts for increased efforts to prevent guns from falling into the hands of those with “dangerous” mental health conditions, nothing is sacred and even the claim of a mental health disability can lead to adverse press reports.

Gun-control proponents will demand a wide interpretation of the Federal law that prohibits anyone who “has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution” from gun ownership.

What, exactly, this will mean to law enforcement officers that may seek psychological counseling or take medication for, say, a sleep disorder as a result of shift work, remains to be seen.

Using this sanitized and politically-correct view of broadly-interpreted mental health issues, a law enforcement officer’s longevity may not survive their first high-stress deadly-force encounter or contact with a particularly gruesome crime scene. Since mental health professionals are “notoriously bad at predicting” who will become violent, it’s anyone’s guess as to when the silliness will end.

Retiring after nearly 22 years of active duty in the Army, Lance Eldridge worked as the director of a law enforcement training academy and served as a rural patrol deputy and patrol officer in Colorado. While in the military, he held leadership positions in a variety of organizations and has written extensively about US military strategy, operations, and history. He is a graduate of the US Army’s Command and General Staff College and the Norwegian Staff College. He holds a Masters Degree in History and a Masters Degree in Strategic Intelligence. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in national security strategy, European regional security, US history, and terrorism. He now works in northern Virginia.

Contact Lance Eldridge.

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