PTSD and Firefighters: Let’s Make 2017 the Year We All Understand it Better

By: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

Some of my best inspiration for writing blogs comes from reader comments here and on my other social mediaPTSD brain image platforms. Today, that inspiration comes from two of my fire service colleagues, Assistant Chief Linda Green and former military man and now a management consultant, Adrian Clarke. Chief Green works for Cal Fire and Adrian is a friend and colleague from “across the pond” in the UK.

The other day, I shared an article from, 5 Signs Your Spouse has PTSD, over on LinkedIn. Here’s Linda’s comments:

I think if my husband had read that article last year, he would have dragged me off to the therapist, if I hadn’t already been seeing one. I was 5 for 5 on that [list from the article] when I was in the depth of my PTSD last fall.

It can be caused by cumulative stress, a single incident, or some combination of the two. My single event, on top of a 32-year career, planted the seed for my delayed onset PTSD. I sought help early because of my insomnia, but that didn’t stop the progression.

If you’re suffering, ask for help. Build your support team, because it takes a team to carry you through. You cannot do this alone.

And now, from Adrian:

Thanks for sharing Robert. This piece highlights the importance of understanding of the signs and symptoms of PTSD by those who live with or are connected to the person living with it.

Living with it? Yes for many. Surviving it? Yes, for most, but unfortunately for some no as this is a terminal injury/illness just as cancer is. It can eat away at the individual until they cannot deal with it anymore.

My PTSD came from my active service in the military. Before I met my wife, after 20 years of living with it I sought treatment and yes it is curable and yes your life can be PTSD free. Recognizing and admitting you have it is the first step but by understanding the condition will help those around you to support your recovery.

See why I’m inspired? And thus, the title of this post. One of the things we all must do if we are to become more Substance abuse bottle and chainsuccessful in combating PTSD is to understand it better. To become better at recognizing it in ourselves and in those we work with or live with.

I truly believe that if we can get better at that, and better at talking about PTSD, we can remove the stigma surrounding PTSD, and other afflictions that strike firefighters and EMS personnel. Afflictions like alcohol and substance abuse which all too frequently are the “self-medications of choice” for those who are suffering.

So, who’s with me on this?

About Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

Battalion Chief (Ret.) Robert Avsec served with the men and women of the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department for 26 years. He’s now using his acquired knowledge, skills, and experiences as a freelance writer for and as the “blogger in chief” for this blog. Chief Avsec makes his home in Cross Lanes, WV. Contact him via e-mail, [email protected].