In collaboration with the Veterans History Project, the National Institute of Corrections will host a panel discussion in anticipation of PTSD Awareness month on May 15, 2019 at the Library of Congress. The panel discussion will bring awareness to post-traumatic stress disorder for veterans who may be struggling to deal with their experiences from the military, particularly those who have been deployed to a combat zone.

The panel features law enforcement programs at several locations across the country, highlighting how each jurisdiction created and implemented teams or programs to improve practices meant to serve veterans who are in crisis. Law enforcement officers, Veteran Justice Outreach specialists from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and community-based agency representatives come together to implement approaches to calm down veterans in crisis in our communities.

These programs are improving public safety, and are creating opportunities for veterans struggling to re-acclimate to civilian life. These traumatized men and increasingly women receive the help they need to address mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, related to their military experiences. This is a far better resolution than becoming incarcerated or otherwise involved in the criminal justice system.

Veterans Response Teams are improving outcomes for these veterans and minimizing hostile and sometimes volatile situations for both law enforcement officers and the veterans. This paper shares the views of law enforcement officers, corrections professionals, representatives from the VA and other community-based treatment providers, each of whom, in their own words, have stories to tell.

The panel will include key representatives from several of jurisdictions featured in the publication, to share their stories and experiences working with veterans in crisis in their communities and how their innovative efforts are making a difference.

One of the speakers will be Cmdr. Thor Eells (ret.), Executive Director of the National Tactical Officers Association. His background in law enforcement includes more than 30 years of service with the Colorado Springs (CO) Police Department, and he is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.