Over the last three years, MCO has led a crusade within the State of Michigan to educate the public and legislature about the pervasiveness of Post -Traumatic Stress within the Department of Corrections.
This work, which started in 2015, has included national research on the topic, a comprehensive study of the effect of PTSD on officers in Michigan and multiple discussions with experts on possible resources and solutions.
It wasn’t until recently that the tide began to turn and law makers took action to address this important issue head on. So what caused this sudden change?
Jeremy Tripp, MCO, Director of Government Affairs, credits this shift as one of sustained dialogue and evidence-based lobbying.
“I think many people are generally aware of the challenges officer’s face inside Michigan prisons; however, MCO has been able to show how widespread this issue is among corrections staff and provide data that backs up those assertions. Once people have the facts, it’s a very difficult problem to ignore.”
State Representative and MCO Legislator of the Year Tom Barrett was one of the first to begin seriously looking at the numbers and has used his position as a member of the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee to push this topic into the spotlight.
House Resolution 0353, sponsored by Barrett and adopted by the Michigan House of Representatives, formally recognizes June 27th as Post Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day in Michigan. For the first time, this day will also recognize the struggles of corrections officers alongside the brave men and women of the United States military.
“These legislators have taken the time to learn our issues and listen to the struggles facing officers and their families across our profession. As a union, we have made it our mission to communicate an authentic message and I am encouraged to see this issue getting the attention it has so desperately needed,” added Andy Potter, MCO Executive Director.
In addition, MCO is also playing a role in shaping the MDOC’s approach to PTSD and Officer Wellness with board member Marcus Collins of the Detroit Detention Center being appointed to the Directors EPIC team on Employee Wellness.
As we learn more about the work ahead we will continue to keep members informed about all aspects of the EPIC team and what is being discussed.
In the meantime, we encourage all officers to look out for one another and lend help to someone experiencing trauma in or out of the workplace.
If you or someone you know is currently struggling and has had thoughts of suicide, we want you to know that you are not in this alone. Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline At 1-800-273-8255.