Law enforcement groups nationwide are informally monitoring war veterans starting or returning to jail or prison jobs for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, reports the Washington Post. Police and corrections officers are loath to show weakness, and few seek help to deal with PTSD, said Caterina Spinaris Tudor, founder of Desert Waters Correctional Outreach in Canon City, Colo. She said PTSD developed abroad can be re-triggered on the job by varying scenarios, including assaults and hostage situations, or suicides by inmates or fellow officers. “We forget their heart is beating behind that hard shell,” Tudor said. “Let’s look at the problem instead of pretending it’s not there.”
Working in prisons isn’t that different from working in a war zone, Brent Parker, of the Colorado Department of Corrections, told a conference here on prison workplace culture. “The only difference is in the military, you cycle back to the real world eventually, hopefully,” said Parker, a field training supervisor. Experts say it isn’t known how many correctional officers might have PTSD. Research suggests they have higher rates of divorce, substance abuse and suicide than the general population.