Not Just Soldiers Fall Victim to PTSD - FOX 42: Omaha News, Sports and Weather; kptm.com |

Not Just Soldiers Fall Victim to PTSD

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Maureen Wurtz

OMAHA (KPTM)- Being a first responder can be a violent job, and the people who are first on the scene of accidents of violent crimes can see things that will mentally scar them for life.

"For five years in the gang unit I made life and death decisions, to shoot or not shoot, hundreds of times," said former Omaha Police Department Officer, Ryan Sedlacek.

Sedlacek worked for the OPD gang unit for five years, from 2005 to 2011.

"I worked for 361 days in a foreign country in a combat zone. I had way more conflict, gun battles, and saw more violence and more dead bodies here in Omaha Nebraska," said Sedlacek. Sedlacek was in Iraq in 2003.

He said every day on the gang unit was filled with adrenaline. "Omaha is a violent town, we have a gang problem, we have a lot of gun violence."

In 2008, Sedlacek said he was there when his partner shot and killed 17-year-old Jovan Reed. "I'm still haunted by his dying breath, when he screamed you killed me!"

In 2010, Sedlacek said he and his partners were driving near 44th and Spaulding when they saw five guys in an alley. Sedlacek said they jumped out of the police car, and before he could get a good look at the guys, "The that I was next to took the rounds that were meant for my head."

Sedlacek said there have been no arrests in that case. "I barely escaped death that day."

Now, instead of fighting a battle in the street, he is fighting one in his head. "I saw too much, I did too much, and ultimately it was my personal demise."

Sedlacek suffers from ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,' or PTSD.

"I got sick from being an Omaha Police officer. I would like to think that they had a sense of honor and responsibility that I did my job. I took guns off the street," said Sedlacek.

He's been retired since 2011 and receives a monthly disability pension that is now being reviewed. "First I have the stress of PTSD and now I have the stress of wondering do I get to keep this pension?"

"The rules of the pension board dictate that you will receive automatic reviews, at minimum, the first year after you retire, the third year after you retire, the fifth year after retirement, and every five years after that until you achieve age 62," said Aaron Hanson, who is on the board of trustees on ‘Police and Fire Retirement' system.

Hanson said disability pensions cost the city pension fund 80 million dollars a year. Hanson said the pension fund is made up of police and fire wages and tax dollars.

"It's important that we have to make sure that the disability component is there," said Hanson. "For all those police officers and firefighters who fall into those terrible situations."

"It costs money, it costs a lot of money," said Sedlacek. "(But) I don't want to go see a doctor for this. I never wanted this."

Sedlacek said first responders see a lot of things. "You are going to witness things that you will never forget. You are going to be a part of situations and scenes that you wish you could forget. But trust me, you won't forget."

 

According to Hanson, it could be up to two months for the review to get in.

Until then, Sedlacek said he has no choice but to suffer and wait.

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