Santa Cruz Police Officer With PTSD Fights for Disability Retirement

For many years, former Santa Cruz police officer Josafat “Joe” Rodriguez Jr. didn’t know he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

A veteran of the Persian Gulf War, the 44 year old from Salinas at first didn’t acknowledge that the wail of a police siren triggered memories of sirens he heard during the war. The desert sirens warned of nerve-gas attacks, and Rodriguez would don a gas mask and take cover with his fellow Marines.

As a Santa Cruz police officer years later, Rodriguez joined the county’s Narcotics Enforcement Team and participated in guns-drawn drug raids on homes that also reminded him of the war. Even working at the police station, where people walked casually in halls carrying guns and wearing uniforms, was enough to give him an anxiety attack.

Now, according to attorneys involved in a court case that has spanned five years, an inability from him or anyone else to recognize his symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder may cost him a disability retirement worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Shaffman, Rodriguez’ attorney, said Rodriguez struggled for a long time to understand his own mental health problems. He has since remarried and had a third child.

“Rodriguez gave enormous service and sacrifice to his country and this community at great personal cost. “He has no anger towards the city for how he has been treated, as he understands no one realized when he left that he was suffering from PTSD,” said Shaffman.

Now, Shaffman said, “His deepest desire is to continue to heal his own PTSD and help his fellow war veterans heal theirs.”


The Veterans Affairs crisis line can be reached at 800-273-8255 ext. 1 or by texting 838255 or visiting www.VeteransCrisisLine.net.


Read more in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Source: www.santacruzsentinel.com


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