PTSD Makes Police Encounters Tough, Mental Health Experts Say

Thursday, March 22nd 2018, 6:34 pm
By: News On 6

Local groups are speaking out about the importance of raising awareness of veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

They risked their lives for their country but face an even harder struggle once home. 

News On 6 spoke to a veteran who said many who suffer from PTSD have trouble reaching for the help they need.

"He had issues reacclimating. Struggling to blend in, and unfortunately, he took his own life," said Joshua Starks with Tulsa VFW. 

Six years of service with the United States Army led Joshua Starks' father down that tragic path. 

Starks said his father struggled to cope with PTSD.

"Seeing my father as I grow up go through that really drove it home for me. So, as we returned home from Afghanistan and was excited to be back home on US soil, it broke my heart to see the cycle continue," Starks said. 

The family of the man killed in Wednesday’s officer-involved shooting in Owasso told News On 6 he served 16 years in the Air Force, deployed on three tours, and like Starks' father suffered from PTSD. 

3/22/2018 Related Story: Owasso Man Shot By Police Suffered From PTSD, Family Says

"Those are some of the most difficult unimaginable situations to be in. That's why they're looking to us and others to get more training," said Mike Brose with the Mental Health Association of Tulsa.

Brose said sometimes when people who suffer from PTSD come into contact with police, a deescalation is needed, but that often isn't an option. 

"People in mental distress sometimes do things that may appear threatening and may, in fact, are threatening so they have to make fast decisions," said Brose. 

Starks said it's incidents like these that drive him to raise awareness for veterans and the issues they bring home. 

"If you see a veteran that's distancing themselves from everybody. If you see that they're not opening up and talking about their experiences or just how they're feeling just that day, please reach out to them," Starks said. 

For more information on how to get help for PTSD, you can find a link for the Mental Health Association here. Or you can visit the Tulsa VFW's Facebook page