Finally, right now reaffirm you sense of mission. Believe what you do matters, that you matter. A sense of mission in life is not only essential it is literally the key to that quality of "spirit" so many survival specialists talk about. It is the core of hope, the engine of our soul and too many officers are living like the walking dead because their spirit has been beaten down. You matter, we need you, a free society is dependent on a strong trained, honorable constabulary and that is you!
Not long ago, Dr. Sally Satel, famous for healing veterans of Vietnam, shared with me her formula for dealing with and preventing PTSD. I want to finish with her list and have you think about how you prepare yourself and help others. We are our bothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
First, believe in your mission, the importance of what and how you do your service to the community.
Second, train hard, train realistically and emotionally. Reflect on exactly what you are preparing for when you train on the range; and what it will be like after you win a real confrontation. Finish with mental rehearsals of confrontations start to end and remember, you always win!
Third, never stop being a good friend or seek out your friends when you need them. Supportive camaraderie is such a powerful cure for the injured spirit and yet we often hesitate to reach out because we just don't know what to say. Just say you're there for them and let them talk, laugh, cry, or be still, everyone is different.
Finally, find meaning in what has happened. That is sometime the toughest of all for us. Our cynicism can run pretty deep and silver linings aren't our specialties, but this step is truly powerful and can help anyone through their darkest hour.
None of the above precludes the need or value of a trained therapist, but the lessons of history have shown us there is much we can do for each other and ourselves to cope with or even prevent PTSD.