Montana Police Officer Finds Healing In Sharing His PTSD story

We recently introduced you to a Great Falls police sergeant who courageously shared his story of struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Reporter Shannon Newth has the the next chapter of his story on the road to recovery.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder, brought on by trauma. It can occur from one event, or as a result of cumulative stress. There are three main symptoms – avoidance, re-experiencing the trauma and hyper vigilance There can also be physical symptoms, like high blood pressure and rapid heart rate.

Those with P-T-S-D can recover – Sergeant Rich LaBard is living proof.

“What I really had a hard time with after I went through treatment and got a grasp on what happened to me, was the guilt of leaving this guy, in my mind, to die, but I was ok with that when I made the decision because I was going to save these kids and I was either going to kill this guy or he was going to kill me, so that was how I was ok with spending his life to save the kids. When I got in the house, it was already done,” LaBard said.

August 16, 2004 is a day that changed LaBard. The change wasn’t instantaneous, but rather an unfolding over years. LaBard was first on scene to an active shooter call, where he was forced to leave a man shot in the chest in the yard to proceed – as police training teaches – to a threat inside the house. There he found a man who had just shot himself.

Personality changes, sleepless night, flashbacks, paranoia. Mental and physical symptoms escalated over years, all the while he didn’t connect the dots between incidents and symptoms, suicide became an option to bring peace and solace to the constant noise inside his head.

“I hadn’t gotten to the point where I had made a plan, but I w as certainly headed that way,” LaBard recalled.

Read more and watch the report at KPAX.

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