Showing posts with label Pulse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pulse. Show all posts

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Stranger Angels Among Us Healing PTSD

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 2, 2022

“If I say it, it will become real and you’ll know I’m nuts.”

Those were the words Chris told his therapist. He wasn't a veteran but had #PTSD. It hit him after reporting on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2012 when a bomb blast nearly killed him. It struck him again when his wife decided waiting for him to commit suicide was taking too long, and she decided to kill him. For seven years, he lost everything he had evaporate, including his faith in God.

On Google Play and Audio July 4th, 2022

The Lost Son Alive Again is part one of this three-part series. It is also available as an audiobook.

The series is about the PTSD all of us survivors face. Too many dismiss what we go through because reporters cover veterans more than the rest of us. If they don't know we're real, we feel abandoned with no way of finding comforting support to discover we are not alone and our futures are not filled with hopelessness.

Chris was a reporter and domestic violence survivor with PTSD. The only friend Chris had was the bartender at a local bar. Ed was an ex-pastor with PTSD after a young veteran committed suicide instead of talking to him.

Chris's best friend Bill since childhood was a soldier with PTSD, determined to stay in the Army until a member of his unit was kicked out under personality disorder instead of being helped. David was in the same unit with PTSD, also retiring believing it was his only option. They walked back into Chris's life on the night he decided it was time for his suffering to come to an end.

David and Bill told Chris about Mandy, a mysterious woman living in Gabriel New Hampshire that healed them. She was a survivor of child abuse and domestic violence because her husband abused her and then tried to kill her.

He met Alex and Mary Michaels, brother and sister Christian book publishers who had PTSD from child abuse. They offered him a chance to write a book about healing PTSD, sending him on a journey to not just change his life, but the lives of all survivors.

Grace was a retired Orlando Police Officer with PTSD after the Pulse Nightclub massacre. She was one of  Chris's best friends too.

Drake was a gay female wrestler until during her last fight, her opponent died. She had PTSD from that along with the suicide of her first love interest. She became Mandy's protector after Mandy saved her from suicide.

Benjamin was a Vietnam veteran with PTSD and extremely wealthy because a Korean War veteran helped him heal.

Throughout these books, there are many different characters struggling to heal and when they find it, they pass it on to all those they come into contact with. 

Part two introduces more characters and covers their spiritual struggles along with how healing is always a work in progress. It is a battle no one wins alone, but with support, it is one that can be won. 

From Stranger Angels Among Us


Chris arrived at his therapist Dariana Kemp’s office. The pastor Ed told him about helping him heal and had retired but he suggested another pastor/psychologist he knew. She was a good fit for Chris and gained his trust. He called her for an emergency appointment before he left for Gabriel.

Her office was in an old mansion in the center of Salem. She was only middle-aged but had the wisdom of what Chris called an “old spirit” with short salt and pepper hair, piercing eyes, behind large rim purple glasses, and an infectious laugh. She knew more about the Bible than anyone else he had ever known. She got into working on PTSD using psychology and spirituality after losing her Vietnam veteran father to suicide.

Chris sat in the huge leather chair near the fireplace playing with his fingers as his eyes moved everywhere in the room, avoiding having to look at Dariana. He knew she could see right through him.

While he was looking at the massive wall of books, she gave him a few minutes to put his thoughts together, then gave up. “Ok Chris, it’s time to speak up. What’s going on? You said it was urgent.” She knew him well enough to have extra patience with him. For a great writer, he was lousy at concocting stories to speak and even worse at lying to cover up what he didn’t want to say. 

“I’m upset Grace isn’t coming because I don’t want to do this but she was going to make it a little easier to do. Now I have to go there alone, have my heart ripped out for Mandy, and then drive back alone.” He took a deep breath, finally looked at her, then hung his head down. “I don’t want to do it, but I know I have to.  I want you to tell me I don’t have to go there.”

“You don’t have to go there. You could just email Drake, get her thoughts about Mandy and let her approve the script or make her changes. But you already know that. Why do you need me to tell you what you already know?”

“I guess I needed reassurance.” Hating the thought of having to admit it, “My confidence is in the toilet right now. The first book was done and in book stores in six months and so was the second one. I’ve been working on this one for eight months and it still isn’t done.”

“What do you think is holding you back?”

“The others were easier, I guess because I lived in that hell and I knew what put me there. With this, with it being about kids, it’s causing more emotional pain than I expected. I had to read so many articles on child abuse, that it made me sick. That’s why I knew I had to talk to the people already in my life because they lived in that hell and found their way out.” Dariana saw he was holding something back. She waited. He slammed the arm of the chair. “You know what pisses me off the most about all this?”

“That it’s all still happening?”

“Not just that. The so-called pro-life people screaming about how they are protecting the lives of the unborn! What about protecting the lives of the born? What about protecting them when they get raped or abused by their parents? I keep thinking about that woman who was raped and decided to have the baby so she could put it up for adoption but the rapist had rights just because of the state they lived in. If he hadn’t freaked out and got shot in jail, I wonder what would have happened to the baby.”

“Sometimes it’s like laws protect criminals more than the victims.”

“Ya. All these claims about morality and not a peep out of any of them about kids being gunned down in schools by weapons designed to kill as many as possible because other people want to have fun with those same guns. These born children should matter to all of them at least as much as the unborn. Since they don’t, since they don’t show up in mass to protect children born into this world, with the soul from God within their bodies, it proves those people are only pro-birth and I think that is a true abomination.”

“God granted everyone free will to make their own choices about their bodies and what they do or do not believe. Sometimes I wonder what gives others the right to force their own beliefs onto everyone else. They scream the loudest, so everyone else is their enemy and evil in their eyes. There are denominations believing people have the right to decide for themselves. Presbyterians fully support the right for people to decide for themselves so that every child is loved because they were wanted. I still preach when another pastor goes on vacation and gets into all kinds of discussions with folks because of all the other talk that’s out there. They know what is right for them and what their moral values are, but they end up questioning themselves because others try to force theirs on them.”

“And most of the others are phony as hell.” Dariana saw how the anger just rushed out of him. Then sadness moved in. “Like Mandy’s parents. I need to know what it was like for Mandy before she became a miracle worker. That’s the only way I can be able to help kids with the new book. I think the only way I can understand what it was like living in that hell, is to go in there so God can get them out.”

“So how are the mood swings now? How many times does it still happen?”

“They aren’t as bad as they used to be."

“Good. Work on that more. You’ve been hearing the stories of others for a couple of years now. Why is Mandy’s story so hard for you?”

“I honestly don’t know. I’ve been questioning myself more than usual in the last couple of months. I mean, I had a great childhood. My parents loved me, gave me what I needed and I always knew they were proud of me.” His hands began to tremble. He stood up, and she turned to watch him walk to the window. He was looking away from her, shoved his hands into his pockets, and took a deep breath. “In a way, I’m glad they passed away before all that happened. I don’t think I could have taken seeing the pain in their eyes. They’d have no way of knowing how things would turn out like this and it would have been seven years of agony for them too.”

“I can understand that. What do you think they’d feel about all this now?”

“They’d be proud but, I’m glad they didn’t have to suffer before my life got good again.” He slowly walked back to the chair and sat down.

She waited for him to say more, watched his body language and how his eyes were moving. “I think you’re holding something back, but when you’re ready, you’ll tell me what it is. “ How’s the drinking?”

“Good. I enjoy it now instead of abusing it and starting to learn how to, as you said, experience my feelings, like you said I should, instead of trying to drown them. It isn’t easy but you taught me how to stop fighting them.”

She grinned, “Seriously? Did you forget you suck at lying?”

“Honestly, I still drink too much when things get too intense.”

“We'll work on that and maybe start praying on it instead of trying to get plastered.“

“I’ll try harder.”

“We talked a lot about the flashbacks before but I need you to go back to right before it. Where were you going to?”

“We were headed to meet Bill and his unit.”

“What was your mood like?”

“I don’t know. I was pissed off about something.”

“Can you remember what it was?”

As he covered his mouth, his eyes were moving rapidly, then froze looking at her. “I was pissed off because I tried to get her to go a different way. It was like a premonition that the road was dangerous.”

“Any idea where that came from?”

“I don’t know. The longer we were on that road, the stronger the feeling of doom came over me.” He sat quietly searching his memory. “The more upset I was getting, the more she laughed at me. I told her she was just as bossy as my wife and told her they had more than just their names in common. Oh my God! I forgot her name was Brenda too. Wow! Anyway, we had the windows up because of all the sand, but for some reason, I opened mine.”

“You said you were looking out the window. Do you remember what made you turn your head to the left?”

He winced, “If I say it, it will become real and you’ll know I’m nuts.”

“Just say it and then that memory will lose some of the power it has over you. Besides, I told you before, we’re all a little bit nuts.”

He didn’t want to say it. The words were trying to get out but he locked his lips to stop them from escaping knowing once he said it, he’d never be able to take it back. He looked at her, remembered how much he knew he could trust her, and the words escaped. “I heard my name.”

“Was it your driver’s voice?”

“No, it was a male’s voice. I heard it loud and clear but I can’t make sense out of it because we were going something like forty miles an hour and her window was still up.”

“Have your thoughts about that changed since it happened?”

“No. To tell you the truth, I forgot about most of that. Why? What do you think it means?”

“Maybe God was trying to prevent it? We hear stories of things like that happening all the time. Someone didn’t get on a plane for reasons they couldn’t explain and it ended up crashing. People decide to go a different way and then end up discovering there was a major accident or a bridge collapsed. I think God tries to prevent a lot of things but people don’t understand what He’s trying to get them to pay attention to.”

“All I know right now is, if I didn’t open the window, the glass would have shattered on top of the shrapnel hitting us. If I didn’t turn my head to the left because of the voice, if I survived it, my face would have been destroyed and I probably would have been blind. Hard to take in right now, but I know you’re probably right.

“I’m glad you told me that and let that secret out. That flashback will lose some power now, just like when you found out Brenda died and wouldn’t haunt you anymore. What about the dreams? Any closer to making sense of them?

“Nope. They’re getting stronger. Last night I saw Grace at the Salem Willows wharf. She was standing on the edge for a while then she jumped in. She didn’t come back up.” Chris looked down at the floor.”

“Is that how it ended?”

“No. I was terrified and woke up. My heart was beating hard and I forced myself to go back to sleep. Then in the dream, she came up out of the water holding the woman from the other dreams. Grace was dry but she was dripping wet with her hair all over her face. The only thing I could see was her lips. She mouthed the words, ‘help me find my way,’ and then I woke up.” “Didn’t the sleeping pills help?”

“No, I stopped taking them because they made it worse. I couldn’t wake up after it started and then it just went into loop replay with the same dream. Without them, I can wake up and when I finally fall back to sleep, they usually don’t start again.”

“So the dreams could be tied to the book. You said they were getting stronger over the last couple of months and that was when you started to struggle with it.”

“I just keep thinking what if,” he didn’t want to get the words out because he knew once he did, it would become real. “What if I’m not supposed to write this one and that’s why I’m having a hard time?”

“What if you are and you are the one fighting yourself? Think about it. What came over you to want to write it in the first place?”

“Some of the letters I got about the other books. People told me what they went through and how much the books helped them. When I started to write it, that was around the same time the dreams started but they were only coming once in a while.” “That’s starting to sound more like a vision than just a dream.”

“What do you mean?”

Dariana got up, went to the bookcase, and returned with a book in her hand, The Vision Awaits. She handed it to Chris. “The book of Revelations was filled with visions of what John saw. It’s like the feeling you have that is compelling you to go back to Gabriel. The same thing you felt when you were compelled to go there the first time and back last year. It’s a vision of something you need to know has to happen instead of you just feeling what you need to do.”

“I trust God more than ever, but I still have a hard time trusting myself. Do you think the dreams are getting stronger because the time is getting closer to it happening?”

“Maybe. That’s something that you need to be patient for. None of us can see what God can. None of us know what’s the best way, but He does. Most of the time we create a mess because we don’t like to wait for anything, and what makes it harder, is when we lose faith it will happen. We screw things up by trying to do it on our timeline. I’ve done that plenty of times myself. I think we all have. I also know that getting to people soon after the trauma happens has a lot better chance of keeping them from the extra suffering.

“I know I wish I leaned on someone and then maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t have suffered for those seven years.” Chris looked down at the floor. “I mean, I know it wasn’t all my fault what happened to me, but I decided to walk away from God when I should have been running toward Him.”

“You didn’t have anyone to open your eyes and give you a reason to. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Chris was feeling a rush of guilt, “That’s just it. At first, I did. Bill tried for a while. The Chaplain in his company kept reaching out to me whenever I went to cover the wars. I remember the second time I was covering them, I forgot my Bible. I missed having that comfort. The Chaplain handed me it and I carried it on every assignment until it got blown up with me in Afghanistan. Then, after I was back home, recovering, he kept calling me and emailing me and I wouldn’t respond. I think that was God’s way of telling me He was there for me but I refused to see it. Over the years, it was like I didn’t even want to admit someone was trying to help me. Bill, eventually he gave up too.”

“Did you try to contact him?”

“Who? Bill or the Chaplain?”

“Both. I know you have Bill back in your life but what about the years in between?”

“I wasn’t ready to listen back then. I guess after that, I felt ashamed of the way I treated him and the Chaplain. After the press conference we had about the Netflix series, the Chaplain wrote me a letter and said that he never gave up on me but put me into God’s hands. He said that he always saw something special in me and when he saw me giving my speeches, he saw it come out. He said he was proud of me.”

“Did you write back to him?”

“Ya. We even spoke a few times on the phone since then. I keep wondering what would have happened if I did listen to him back then. Would the rest of this still happen?”

“That’s something only God knows. I don’t pretend to know His mind any better than you do, but from what I’ve learned about you, I don’t think you would have accomplished what you did had you not suffered the way you did.

“What do you mean?” Chris was getting angry, “That my suffering was part of His plan?

“Hell no. What I mean is, that you weren’t ready to listen but above that, you had forgotten how powerful God is and how much all of us do depend on others in this world. That is what you’ve added to what you are preaching.”

“I’m not a preacher!”

“Yes, you are. You keep saying that as if you don’t want to admit it to yourself. That is exactly what you’ve been doing. Why do you get so defensive whenever that is pointed out to you? Is that what you’re holding inside of you?”

Chris looked down at the floor. “I don’t know how to say it. I’ve never told another person. I didn't even tell Mandy the whole thing.”

Dariana leaned forward in her chair. “Whatever it is, it may be what’s missing in your healing. Just close your eyes and tell me.”

“When I was young I wanted to become a Priest. That part I was able to talk about. It was a reoccurring dream that I never talked about before.”

“You’re in a safe place right now to talk about it. Just close your eyes so you aren’t trying to read my facial expressions and remember the dream.”

Chris leaned back, closed his eyes and the memory came to life. “I was in the sanctuary wearing the vestments of a priest, and carrying an empty challis, walking down the aisle, like the Holy procession but there was no one else inside. All the pews were empty. Instead of going up another aisle, I carried the challis out the front door. When I got outside, I was wearing a flannel shirt, T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, as I wore to school. I stood on the top step, looked down at the challis and it was full. I looked up and saw hundreds of people there. I gave Communion to all of them, and then preached on the Parable of the Good Samaritan.”

Chris opened his eyes. Dariana was looking at him. “What happened after that?”

“I just saw it all again like it was happening.”

“Close your eyes again and tell me what you told the people.”

“I preached to the crowd about the Good Samaritan and how the stranger took care of the man who had been attacked and robbed. How those who claimed to be serving God had no compassion in them.” He recited Luke 10:30-37. Chris opened his eyes. Dariana was amazed. “You said that perfectly. How much more of the Bible have you memorized?"

“That’s the only one. I think it’s because I had that dream so many times when I was young, it became a part of me.” “Have you thought about why it means so much to you?"

“I’m not sure but I always thought about the Samaritan and what happened afterward. I mean, no one knew what he did other than the man he helped and the Innkeeper. So what Jesus said must have come from God watching it. I think God was trying to get the others to stop and help the man but the Samaritan was the only one who listened to Him. I thought about how he must have done a lot of other things only God knew about and that was the way I should live my life too. Now I get upset when people praise me and ask why I do it. The other thing that bothers me is when I get accused of trying to turn people away from the church. I mean, maybe in the back of my mind, they’re right. I mean, it’s appalling to me how so many members of the clergy, no matter what denomination, show absolutely no connection to what Christ taught. They give Christians a bad name and make people think they’re all reprehensible.”

“There is another way to look at it. You brought the Communion out to people who felt they couldn’t enter the church. That tells me what you’ve been doing is exactly what you were intended to do. It also means that the vision of the woman you’ve been having is not the first time you had a vision.”

“What do you mean?”

“That dream you kept having was more like a vision but you just didn’t understand it. You put hope back into the minds of the hopeless. You bring the power of God’s love directly to the churchless children of God. They’re learning that they’re not Fatherless. Maybe in a way, you’re also proving the frauds are not serving God.”

“I hope you’re right because I’m going to need to harness whatever power I have inside of me to do it. It feels as if something is brewing out there.”

“Then pray for the words they’ll need to hear.” Dariana smiled, “The spirit inside you has given you the words people needed to hear and will keep giving them to you. Believe that and trust that. It also explains why you feel so uncomfortable with people praising you. Just deal with it and praise God more so they’ll see He is behind whatever you do for them.”

When Chris got up to leave, Dariana decided to ask him a question she had been wondering since they met. “I have to ask you something. You’re a multimillionaire but you still dress like you don’t have any money at all and live in the same apartment you had. Why do you still live like you have nothing?”

“That’s an easy question to answer. I lived my life this way all along. Even when I had money living in LA, I didn’t like living in that condo. It was too fancy. I felt out of place. I also felt uncomfortable dressing up, like it wasn’t me. Anyway, I live a comfortable life even though it sure is an odd one.” He smiled and Dariana hugged him.

“Well, at least now I understand why you won’t let me tell anyone you’ve been paying me to take care of people with no insurance or money for the last three months.”

“You’re good and too many people need your help, like me. I want them to be able to heal like you’re helping me.

When Chris left, Dariana went over to her computer, opened Chris’s file, and said a prayer, as she always did when he left. She wrote, “I prayed for Chris that God would open his heart and mind and receive the courage and strength he needs for what is to come. I prayed that he would finally open his heart enough so that he would fully feel the joy of what true love is and let it fill the empty place still left in his soul.”

Chris got into his car and sat still for a while. He thought about what Dariana said and about the vision from his youth. It made him understand why he never wanted any praise for what he did for others and why he kept as much as possible secret.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

After almost being fired, Orlando Police Officer with PTSD to receive pension

Officer who suffered PTSD after Pulse massacre granted retirement, pension


Orlando Sentinel
By TESS SHEETS
FEB 13, 2020
Clarke was nearly fired from OPD in November as she awaited the pension board’s decision, because her application had been pending for 180 days, the time limit set by the agency’s union contract for officers to either win their pension or face termination.
Orlando police department Officer Alison Clarke is embraced by Christine Gogicos while visiting the memorial outside the Pulse Nightclub on the one-year anniversary of the shooting in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2017. (SCOTT AUDETTE/Reuters)
Police pension board members voted unanimously Thursday to grant disability retirement and a lifelong pension to Orlando police Officer Alison Clarke, who developed post-traumatic stress disorder following the Pulse massacre.

Clarke cried as she embraced her wife and friends after the hearing. Clarke’s wife, fellow OPD officer Kate Graumann, let out a deep breath as tears welled in her eyes after the vote.

“Now I feel like I’ve come to a conclusion and I can start moving on with the next chapter of my life,” Clarke said after the hearing.
She went to counseling for her symptoms and continued working.

But her condition worsened after the January 2017 death of OPD Lt. Debra Clayton, who was shot and killed outside of a Walmart near College Park, Bouchard said. Clarke responded to the scene, where she “witnessed her colleague and friend mortally wounded,” Bouchard said.
read it here

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Bomb tech responded to Pulse and more...lost everything

Orange deputy found to have fled crash after drinking: 'I gave too much of myself to the Sheriff’s Office’


Orlando Sentinel
By MICHAEL WILLIAMS
MAY 28, 2019

Futch also said he used the Sheriff’s Office Employment Assistance Program to speak with a psychiatrist about the trauma he experienced from his job. He said the allotted six sessions didn’t help; he’s still seeing a therapist and said he’s “absolutely” doing better.
Futch appealed the decision to fire him, but said he has no desire to return to a career in law enforcement. “I lost my marriage, I lost my mind, I gave way too much of myself to the Sheriff’s Office,” he said.
Orange deputy found to have fled crash after drinking: 'I gave too much of myself to the Sheriff’s Office’
This image shows Emiliano Hernandez's car after it was hit by Matthew Futch's OCSO-issued truck (Orange County Sheriff's Office)
An Orange County deputy was fired after an investigation found he got into a car accident after drinking at downtown Orlando bars while he was on call for the agency, then fled and lied to his supervisors about the crash.

Matthew Futch, a 10-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, violated the agency’s policies governing truthfulness, conformance to laws, violation of rules and operating vehicles during and after the Sept. 14 crash in downtown Orlando, the investigation found.

The Orlando Sentinel obtained the report through a public records request.

In a phone interview Friday, Futch admitted drinking prior to the crash, but cited depression, PTSD and personal turmoil as “extenuating circumstances.”

Futch worked as a bomb technician during the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre; he built the explosive breach that ended the hours-long standoff and was involved in the shootout with the gunman, according to an FDLE summary of the attack that claimed 49 lives. He also built the explosive breach used in the June standoff in which four children died and an Orlando police officer was seriously injured.
read more here

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Orlando backed out of talks with Pulse responder?

Orlando backed out of settlement with officer suffering PTSD after Pulse, wife says
Orlando Sentinel
David Harris
August 7, 2018

The wife of a retired Orlando police officer diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the massacre at Pulse nightclub said the city has backed out of a proposed settlement in his workers’ compensation lawsuit.
Orlando Police officer Gerry Realin was part of the small hazmat team that was responsible for removing the bodies from Pulse nightclub. He now struggles with PTSD and blood pressure so high he was recently admitted to the hospital.

Gerry Realin was rendered permanently disabled after working on the team that removed bodies from Pulse after the attack in June 2016, which left him with PTSD according to the lawsuit.

He is suing the city and the Orlando Police Department in Orange County circuit court, claiming lost wages and medical benefits, as well as Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations.

His wife Jessica Realin said the parties met for mediation in June and came to a proposed settlement, but her attorney called her Monday to say the city backed out of the deal.

She declined to say what the settlement was.

“Gerry wanted to move on,” his wife said. “He felt like he wanted to be completely separated [from the city]. He didn’t feel like he could handle trial. I guess the city wants a trial.”
read more here

Friday, January 12, 2018

Judge Ruled Against Pulse Officer with PTSD? Seriously?

Ex-Orlando cop with PTSD gets suit against city denied by judge

My News 13
January 11, 2018

Former Orlando police officer and Pulse Nightclub shooting first responder Gerry Realin, who filed a lawsuit against his former employer, has been denied by a worker’s compensation judge. (File)

ORLANDO
A former Orlando police officer and Pulse Nightclub shooting first responder who filed a lawsuit against his former employer has been denied by a worker’s compensation judge. Judge Neal Pitts ruled against Gerry Realin in his case against the City of Orlando and the Orlando Police Department.

Realin developed PTSD after the shooting at Pulse Nightclub and claimed that OPD ignored safety procedures during cleanup of the incident.

Realin was part of a small Hazmat team who pulled bodies from the club for hours.
read more here

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Another Pulse First Responder With PTSD Mistreated

Pulse first responder suing Orlando police dept., city for $1 million

Officer says he was harassed over claims for PTSD treatment

By Mike Holfeld - Investigative Reporter
ORLANDO, Fla. - Pulse first responder and former Orlando police Officer Gerry Realin said Thursday that he will file a lawsuit against the city of Orlando and Orlando Police Department seeking damages for alleged violation of Florida's Workers' Compensation Law.

Maitland attorney Geoff Bichler, of the law offices Bichler, Oliver, Longo and Fox, told News 6 that Realin was harassed and intimidated by at least seven Orlando police employees including Chief John Mina.
Realin was part of the hazmat team assigned to remove the dead from Pulse Nightclub the morning after the deadly assault June 12, 2016. His doctor said he was unable to return to work at the department because of PTSD.

“We feel that the facts are very clear and compelling," Bichler said. “That there was harassment and retaliation almost from the time Mr. Realin came forward.”

In the lawsuit, Bichler included copies of texts and emails that he said will offer strong proof of the “intimidation tactics” used against Realin.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Pulse Heroic Officer Out of Job Because of PTSD?

UPDATE
Eatonville officer who saved victims during Pulse attack still losing job, but will get pension
By: WFTV Web Staff UPDATE

UPDATE

Community raises funds for Pulse first responder with PTSD who's losing jobPeople from across the world have raised more than $30,000 for a Pulse first responder with post-traumatic stress disorder who is being terminated by the Eatonville Police Department.  
Cpl. Omar Delgado was left with severe PTSD after being one of the first officers to respond to the mass shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse on June 12, 2016. The massacre left 49 people dead and more than 68 wounded, including survivor Angel Col√≥n, whom Delgado dragged out of the club. read more here


What kind of a message does this send to First Responders across the country?

“I guess I’m being punished, because I did cry for help,” Delgado said.

What kind of message does this send to veterans with PTSD and the troops still afraid to speak up about needing help?


These are the same people who risk their lives for everyone else, and now they are still risking their own lives because they do not get the help they need when they need it!

After you read this story, maybe you can explain how this is still happening?


9 Investigates: Pulse hero let go from Eatonville Police Department

WFTV News
Karla Ray
December 4, 2017

“I was able to save Angel, and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but now I suffer through my agony,” Delgado told Ray about his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


EATONVILLE, Fla. - 9 Investigates learned an Eatonville Police officer, who was called a hero after pulling Pulse survivor Angel Colon to safety during the June 2016 attack, is now being let go from his department. 


Investigative Reporter Karla Ray obtained a town resolution that is being voted on during an upcoming meeting, that would pay out some of officer Omar Delgado’s accrued sick time.  It states that his last day will be December 31.

No one from the town would comment on the reason for separation, but Delgado told 9 Investigates he believes he’s being pushed out due to his PTSD.  He admits that an evaluation showed he was unfit for duty, and the town will not allow him to stay on light duty.

Delgado has been with the department for nine and a half years, putting him just shy of the tenure he needs to receive retirement benefits from the town.
read more here

UPDATE
This story got to me and good time to remind folks what happens when they do not get help after taking care of us.

This is from yesterday,
BRIDGEPORT, CT — Police are investigating after a Bridgeport police officer is suspected to have committed suicide in Seaside Park, reports the Connecticut Post. There was a heavy police presence at the park for nearly two hours after a man was found unresponsive in his silver car with city of Bridgeport license plates.
And this is how 2017 started

Second cop commits suicide on Staten Island this month 

About two weeks ago, NYPD Officer Yong Yun — a former borough cop of the month...




Sgt. Freddy Dietz Jr., 53, had been with SAPD since 1983. He served as the city jailer when the SAPD had its own jail.
His father, Fred Dietz Sr., also was an SAPD officer, beginning in 1966 and retiring as a lieutenant in 1997. 

His father said he was struggling to understand the situation. He said his son loved being a police officer and helped a lot of people during his career.
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According to Karen Solomon, founder of Blue HELP, which raises awareness of officer suicide and advocates for mental health benefits, six police officers have died from suicide in Massachusetts in 2017. Another five Massachusetts officers died from suicide in 2016, compared with two killed in the line of duty.
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After Derek Fish finished his patrol last Friday afternoon, the sheriff’s deputy drove his cruiser to his department’s regional headquarters in Columbia, S.C., and parked in the back.It had, for all purposes, been a normal shift, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott would later say.Fish had answered calls. Made an arrest. Written a report.“And then, for some unknown reason, he did what he did,” Lott said.Using his service weapon, Fish killed himself inside his patrol car.The deputy was 28. He didn’t leave a note.
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An off-duty police officer fatally shot himself at his Queens home Sunday afternoon, police said.The 37-year-old male officer, whose name has not been released, was found dead before 3 p.m. at 113th Ave. by 205th St. in St. Albans, police said.Not including Sunday’s death, four active NYPD officers committed suicide this year, according to NYPD stats. 
In 2016, four officers and one school safety agent killed themselves.
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A 47-year-old Chicago police officer was found dead Sunday in a possible suicide, two years after her sergeant husband appeared to take his own life under mysterious circumstances.Cops say Dina Markham was found by a family member in her bathtub on Sunday after taking pills, the Chicago Tribune reported. Her death is being investigated as a suicide.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pulse Responding Officer Wins PTSD Disability Claim

UPDATE

Judge Hears Lost Wage Claims For Pulse Officer With PTSD


Jessica Realin, Gerry’s wife, said the city fought the case hard.
“You’re sitting there watching them pick apart a person, and this person served this community for 13 years proudly,” Realin said. ” For them to tear him apart as if his service didn’t matter, it’s disgraceful.”

Orlando pension board grants officer with PTSD early retirement, pension
Gerry Realin assigned to remove dead from Pulse nightclub
ClickOrlando.com
By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist
July 13, 2017
"This has been a very difficult time for my family. Listening to the evidence today was very hard." Jessica Realin
ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando Police Department Pension Board granted the early retirement and pension for an officer diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after he was assigned to carry bodies out of the Pulse nightclub.

Officer Gerry Realin, 37, asked the board approve his early retirement on permanent disability. The veteran officer was not present for the board’s decision. His wife, Jessica Realin, said doctors told her it would be too stressful for him.

Gerry Realin was one of seven assigned on June 12 to remove some of the 49 dead from the Pulse building. He was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder following his assignment to the nightclub and, according to his treating physicians, has been unable to return to work in any capacity.

The board found that Realin's PTSD was a permanent and total disability directly attributed to his response to the mass shooting.

After the decision, Jessica Realin was very emotional and thanked the board for their time and for hearing their case.
read more here

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

PULSE NIGHTCLUB RESPONDER CONFRONTS A NEW CRISIS: PTSD

A PULSE NIGHTCLUB RESPONDER CONFRONTS A NEW CRISIS: PTSD
WMFE
by Abe Aboraya (NPR)
7 hours ago

Gerry Realin says he wishes he had never become a police officer.
Self portrait of Gerry Realin. Time on the paddleboard is one way Realin deals with his post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis. Gerry Realin (left) and his wife Jessica are working to get first responders workers' compensation benefits in Florida. Image credit: Abe Aboraya

Realin, 37, was part of the hazmat team that responded to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando on June 12, 2016. He spent four hours taking care of the dead inside the club. Now, triggers like a Sharpie marker or a white sheet yank him out of the moment and back to the nightclub, where they used Sharpies to list the victims that night and white sheets to cover them.

He says small things make him disproportionately upset. He gets lost in memories of the shooting, he says — his young son will call him over and over again. Then, he gets angry that he let himself get trapped in thought, and that spirals into depression.

“Then there’s the moments you can’t control,” Realin says. “The images or flashbacks or nightmares you don’t even know about, and your wife tells you the next day you were screaming or twitching all night.”

Realin was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and hasn’t worked since just after the shooting. He worries about his family, he says, “hiding from your kids so that they’re not traumatized by your rage or depression,” which “gives them a sense of insecurity, which isn’t good.”

At least one other police officer has publicly discussed being diagnosed with PTSD after the Pulse shooting, and it’s possible there are more who suffer from it. Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan says there are people who go to war and don’t see what officers saw inside Pulse.
read more here

Monday, June 12, 2017

Pulse Responders Needing Help But Still Not Finding It

A Pulse Nightclub Responder Confronts A New Crisis: PTSD
NPR
Abe Aborya
June 12, 2017
Sheehan has heard from first responders and mental health workers that there are more officers, possibly with PTSD, who don't want to come forward because they don't want to be seen as weak or unfit for duty. She says she wishes they would, though.
Gerry Realin says he wishes he had never become a police officer.

Realin, 37, was part of the hazmat team that responded to the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando on June 12, 2016. He spent four hours taking care of the dead inside the club. Now, triggers like a Sharpie marker or a white sheet yank him out of the moment and back to the nightclub, where they used Sharpies to list the victims that night and white sheets to cover them.

He says small things make him disproportionately upset. He gets lost in memories of the shooting, he says — his young son will call him over and over again. Then, he gets angry that he let himself get trapped in thought, and that spirals into depression.

"Then there's the moments you can't control," Realin says. "The images or flashbacks or nightmares you don't even know about, and your wife tells you the next day you were screaming or twitching all night."

Realin was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and hasn't worked since just after the shooting. He worries about his family, he says, "hiding from your kids so that they're not traumatized by your rage or depression," which "gives them a sense of insecurity, which isn't good."
"I've talked to some of the officers and they're pretty traumatized by what they saw," Sheehan says. "It was horrible, the sights and the smells, and the thing that really haunts them is the cell phones that were in [the victims'] pockets ringing."
read more here

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Responders Haunted By Pulse One Year Later

Basic Instinct to Save Lives Haunts Them After Pulse
Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 11, 2017


Most humans are programmed to run from danger. The need to stay alive is a basic instinct. Some humans are programmed to run toward the danger. The need to help others stay alive is just as much an instinct within them.

A year ago it happened during a time when on man decided to kill as many others as possible at the Pulse Nightclub.

USA Today has a section devoted to the survivors and responders from DearWorld, like Eatonville Police Officer Omar Delgado.

Most of the people at that nightclub were running for their lives and trying to find their friends. All of the people rushing to the unknown horror awaiting them, were on a mission to save as many strangers as possible.

What makes people like Officer Delgado do such a thing? Not just during one horrifying event, but to choose to do it as a job?

We have far too many placing such a value on others lives, to the point where they were prepared to die for them, turning into someone who can no longer value their own lives.

“Each memory stings sharper than a slap, how can there be a healing of the heart?” Peter Meinke
As we approach one year since the Pulse nightclub shooting … 90.7 reached out to Florida’s Poet Laureate, Peter Meinke to see if he’d write a poem to mark the occasion. And he did.
Pulse six months It is an anniversary no one wanted to have.
Definition of anniversary
1: the annual recurrence of a date marking a notable event a wedding anniversary; broadly : a date that follows such an event by a specified period of time measured in units other than years the 6-month anniversary of the accident
2: the celebration of an anniversary
A remembrance is not always something someone wants to have either.
Definition of remembrance
1: the state of bearing in mind
2 a : the ability to remember : memory b : the period over which one's memory extends
3: an act of recalling to mind
4: a memory of a person, thing, or event
5a : something that serves to keep in or bring to mind : reminder b : commemoration, memorial c : a greeting or gift recalling or expressing friendship or affection
Let all that sink in for a moment. Ready to sacrifice their own lives for total strangers ending up not being able to find something worth living for? What happened?

That question is asked all the time when we have men and women coming home from combat doing a job that they knew could cost them their lives. It is asked of current military members when they continue to do it knowing the price they too many have to pay.

We hardly ever ask that when police officers, firefighters and other first responders suffer for doing those jobs.

Why? Aren't they just as human as the rest of the people the majority of the humans depend on for their own lives?

We were stunned when regular people put their lives on the line to save their friends. Even more so when they stopped to help strangers they could have simply ran by but did everything possible to help them get to safety. We were not so stunned by the police officers and firefighters doing their jobs.

Have we become so hardened that we think "Oh well. They get paid to do it" instead of being able to simply be in awe of what they decided to do with their own lives? After all, they could have chosen any other profession that would not be do dangerous.

The most difficult thing for me to understand, or accept, is the simple fact that they valued life so much, they were willing to die, but did not value their own enough to find what they needed to recover from those jobs.

How is this possible? This is PTSD Awareness Month which began seven years ago and the 27th is PTSD Awareness Day. Yet for the people who put their lives on the line, are still unaware of what PTSD is, why they have it, or what they can do to heal. Most do not even know they can heal!

How about tomorrow we send our responders that message? Let them know we will help them heal and how much they do mean to us! They do not have to suffer alone. 

This is a day that will haunt them for the rest of their lives and they need help to kick the crap out of the ghosts and stop the sound of the cell phones from ringing in their dreams!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

First Responders to Pulse Searching For Healing

Pulse survivors share memories, messages
USA TODAY , KHOU
Rick Jervis
June 09, 2017
“I don’t care how rich or important you are, when you have a problem, you’re going to dial those three little numbers. But when we need the help, who do we call?” Omar Delgado
More than anything else, Omar Delgado remembers the phones. Dozens of them, he said, ringing incessantly and spinning in pools of their owners’ blood, the only sound in an otherwise quiet nightclub.

Delgado, 45, an Eatonville Police officer, was one of the first responders to the June 12, 2016, Pulse nightclub shooting. As he entered the club through a patio door that night, he saw bleeding and bullet-torn bodies strewn across the dance floor, many of them slumped on top of one another, their phones ringing next to them.

“I knew it was a loved one trying to reach that person and they were never ever going to pick up that phone again,” Delgado said in an interview with USA TODAY. “It was horrific.”

A year ago Monday, gunman Omar Mateen opened fire inside Pulse, a popular LGBT club in Orlando, with a semi-automatic rifle and a 9mm Glock pistol, killing 49 patrons and injuring 53 others in one of the deadliest shooting sprees in U.S. history. Mateen was shot and killed by police after a three-hour standoff.
read more here

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Red Tape After Pulse Massacre Leaves First Responder Struggling

Orlando Officers Grapple With Trauma and Red Tape After Massacre
New York Times
By FRANCES ROBLES
OCT. 27, 2016

ORLANDO, Fla. — The sound of a ringing iPhone makes Omar Delgado sweat and freeze in place. His heart pounds. He closes his eyes to fight back the ghastly images that no one should ever have to see.

He hears the marimba-like tone and he is back at the Pulse nightclub on June 12 as a police officer pinned down in an hourslong standoff surrounded by dead bodies, their phones ringing again and again with calls that will never be answered.

“I literally felt like I was standing there at the club, my feet hurting, my arm hurting from holding my weapon,” Officer Delgado recalled, thinking of the times just after the slaughter when the phone rang and the panic came back.

It has been more than four months since a security guard named Omar Mateen gunned down 49 people at the gay club in Orlando. Officer Delgado, 44, who works in nearby Eatonville, was on the job briefly over the July 4 weekend but suffered a flashback on duty and has not been on patrol since. He has spent the last few months getting treated for nightmares and depression while managing red tape and cuts in his take-home pay because he no longer earns overtime.
read more here

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Orlando Police Officer May Lose Everything After Talking About PTSD from Pulse

When you think about all that has been known about PTSD, especially among those putting their lives on the line, you'd think that Florida would actually be proud to be among the best in the nation addressing it.  But that would mean you were thinking when obviously, my state is not.

Tracking reports from all over the country as well as internationally, it is reprehensible that Florida, the number three state in the US for veterans has this record.  Why? Because law enforcement and firefighting are the top jobs veterans seek after risking their lives in the military. You'd think they would matter enough to be able to depend on us to stand up for them.

UPDATE

Florida Denies Pulse First Responder Workman's Comp for PTSD

Gerry Realin helped pull 49 bodies out of the club on June 12. That night has haunted him and made him unable to work.
BY NICO LANGAUGUST 23 2016 Officer Gerry Realin, one of the first responders on the scene following the Pulse nightclub shooting in June, is fighting the state of Florida to have his post-traumatic stress disorder recognized as workman’s compensation, as current policy doesn’t cover psychological trauma.
After a lone gunman opened fire on the Orlando gay bar on June 12, killing 49 people, Realin helped remove bodies from the club.
“When he got home, 2:30 the next morning, he came in very quiet… looked at both of our kids, then went in the shower and just lost it,” his wife, Jessica, told Orlando TV station, WFTV. “And he didn't stop crying. The next day, it was on and off. And it's just been really hard.”




Orlando Police Officer may lose everything after Pulse terror attack. He has PTSD from it. Is this how we treat those who risk their lives when the survivors are trying to heal from it too?

Does the Police Department understand how vital it is to have an officer talk publicly about having PTSD? It comes with the job! It comes with the job of anyone risking their lives. Firefighters and EMTs get hit by it from their jobs. National Guardsmen and Reservists get it from their jobs. Military members get it from their jobs. It seems everyone is more accepting of civilians getting it from surviving the day the event happened to them than those who serve risk their lives responding to them all the time.

'I still see all the red,' officer who removed bodies from Pulse says 
Orlando Sentinel 
David Harris 
August 13, 2016
Clark estimated there are 100,000 officers nationwide with PTSD, but the law-enforcement industry has been slow to react to officers' needs. They also have a higher rate of suicide.
Sometimes the smell comes back to Officer Gerry Realin. He can't describe it, but he knows it when it hits him.

It's the smell of death.

For four hours, Realin and the seven other members of the Orlando Police Department's hazmat team were tasked with removing all the bodies from Pulse nightclub. As a result, he said he has been diagnosed with PTSD.

"There was just that smell that saturated my whole body," he said while holding his wife Jessica's hand. "My hair, my skin, my whole respiratory system."

Two months after the massacre that killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others, Realin said he still sees "all the red."

Now, Realin's attorney Geoffrey Bichler wants to use the case to challenge the constitutionality of the state's workers' compensation law, which will pay for physical injuries but not psychological ones.

"It is a travesty that there's no legal protection for a guy like Gerry," Bichler said. "The law needs to protect them. As a society, we owe it to them."

Only five states pay workers' comp because of psychological issues suffered on the job, said Ron Clark, who runs the Connecticut-based group Badge of Life, which studies post-traumatic stress disorder in law enforcement. read more here