BOISE -- Thousands of Idahoans are veterans, and unfortunately some of them are struggling with post traumatic stress disorder.
Sometimes, that can manifest itself in violent or dangerous ways. But, there are things being done by local police and veteran organizations to help those vets and to help law enforcement officers stay safe.
On Thursday, Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson and former Army Staff Sgt. George Nickel talked at the Association of Idaho Cities luncheon. They talked about how when the war is over for some of these vets, their internal battle is just beginning. But, people are working to help.
Nickel shared his own story from 2009, which involved the Iraq vet who was battling PTSD shooting into apartment doors, looking for his dog. Nickel was eventually arrested without anyone getting seriously hurt. And, that's when he was able to get the help he needed by connecting with the Idaho Veterans Network, which Nickel now works with to help other vets.
He and Masterson talked about a community effort that they hope all cities take part in called Joining Forces For Treasure Valley Vets. It strives to get vets the help they need, before crisis.
The alternative is lives wasted through substance abuse, lives shattered, families grieving over the deaths of their loved ones, a loss of revenue from incarceration from incarceration of lifelong disability, and more specifically, a veteran that no longer has happiness or the quality of life that everyone deserves, Nickel said.
When that very private war begins to develop inside their minds, because they haven't fully integrated into society, and escalates, too often police are the first contact points with those individuals, and we want to share information that will work in a proactive way to keep those vets out of crisis and healthy, Masterson said.
The presentation was very well-received, so organizers hope more city leaders can connect with veteran groups and vice-versa, to keep veterans who are struggling with PTSD out of the situation that could have cost Nickel his life.