Richard’s Story

Richard joined the Army right after 9-11 and deployed multiple times. He drove a tank in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After returning home from a deployment, he was driving home from work when he was pulled over by a police officer for speeding and driving too close to the center of the road. He was tired, was not paying attention, and was still experiencing “battlemind,” a condition where a returning warrior has difficulty shedding behaviors that are necessary at war but inappropriate in the civilian world. He had been driving aggressively – just as he was trained to do in Afghanistan.

The police officer did not know about Richard’s recent deployment and began talking to Richard about the dangers of driving aggressively. Richard became agitated and he and the police officer began arguing. He was eventually arrested. Throughout the interchange, the police officer never asked Richard if he had served in the military. When that information was finally shared, the police department knew more about the circumstances for Richard’s driving habits.

They linked him to the local Vet Center for counseling to facilitate a smoother transition to civilian life. The Police Chief discussed this in a meeting with highway patrol the next day and they agreed that they would inquire – whenever safely possible – about military status and recent deployments in order to best understand a situation.

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